Old rape kits lead to charges for Port Huron man

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

A Port Huron man was arraigned this week on multiple sexual assault, kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment charges after old rape kits were processed in Detroit, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

Anthony Thornton

Anthony Thornton, 46, was charged with three counts first-degree criminal sexual conduct, three counts second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count kidnapping, and two counts unlawful imprisonment. He was arraigned Tuesday and received a $100,000 cash bond.

Thornton's charges stem from crimes reported in 2010 and 2011, officials said. The prosecutor's office was assisted by the Fair Michigan Justice Project, a program that helps law enforcement tasked with solving crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

In the first attack, Thornton allegedly met his victim April 20, 2010, at a Detroit homeless shelter. The victim, who identifies as a lesbian, accompanied Thornton and two other men to an abandoned house to drink and smoke, according to officials.

"When victim attempted to leave, Thornton and the other men held her down and took turns raping her," officials said. "The victim had a rape kit collected, but the kit was not processed until March 20, 2015."

The DNA was a match to Thornton, officials said.

Almost a year later, Thornton allegedly struck again on March 8, 2011, inside a Detroit home. A female victim was invited to the home by a friend, but arrived to find Thornton there instead, officials said.

"Thornton overpowered the victim and raped her. Thornton only stopped his attack when he heard someone at the door," officials said. "The victim was able to escape through a back window and immediately reported the crime."

That rape kit also sat untested for years. It recently was processed and the DNA matched to Thornton, officials said. The victim has positively identified Thornton as her alleged attacker.

“These cases illustrate the tragedy of Michigan’s failure to quickly process thousands of rape kits in Detroit and the importance of Prosecutor Worthy’s longtime crusade to bring the perpetrators of sex crimes to justice," Fair Michigan Justice Project's president Dana Nessel said in a statement. "An accused serial rapist evaded justice for years, and the victims’ demands for justice were unaddressed."

Thornton faces up to life in prison on the first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges, officials said. He is due back in court for hearings on Jan. 31 and Feb. 7.

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