Efforts boosted to bring charges from Detroit rape kits
Four branches of law enforcement have joined forces to expand the task force responsible for investigating and prosecuting leads from the testing of thousands of abandoned DNA sexual assault kits discovered in a police storage facility in 2009.
The task force itself will operate in its expanded capacity until September 2017.
The announcement of the expansion of the Wayne County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force was made Tuesday morning by Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue and Detroit Police Chief James Craig.
In 2009, more than 11,000 untested sexual assault kits, some of which dated back more than three decades, were found in a Detroit Police Department property storage facility. Each of the kits holds the potential to solve multiple crimes, including those committed by serial rapists.
The MSP’s forensic science division has been working with privately contracted laboratories to test the remaining assault kits. According to the task force, the majority of the kits have been tested and the remaining should be completed by the fall.
According to Worthy, the additional manpower will eventually lead to leads on sexual assault cases statewide.
“These additional resources will enable us to not only continue our work on the Detroit cases, but will enable us to follow through on DNA hits outside of Wayne County and the State of Michigan that we have not been able to focus on before,” Worthy said.
Schuette added: “Our duty is to get rapists off our streets and deliver the justice victims are owed.”
The task force is funded by a one-time $3 million appropriation approved by the Legislature in 2014, $4 million in settlement funds obtained by the office of the Michigan Attorney in 2013 as well as donations from the Michigan Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Prevention and Treatment Board, Wayne County SAFE, the YWCA and the Joyful Heart Association.
Michigan victims of sexual violence are encouraged to call the national sexual assault hotline toll-free, (800) 656-HOPE. All calls are confidential and will be answered by a local counseling center affiliated with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
Assistance is also available online at www.rainn.org.