Worthy looks back on 10 years of Wayne County's rape kit initiative
When thousands of sexual assault kits were found abandoned in an evidence warehouse Aug. 17, 2009, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said she didn't immediately grasp the scale of the effort before her.
"I thought that it would be three to five years of bone crushing work," Worthy said in an email Saturday. "I did not envision initially all of the reforms that needed to take place, nor did I know how difficult it would be to finance the testing, investigating, and prosecution of the kits. ...
"It has been a decade now and we are far from done, but thankfully, no other jurisdiction has to start from scratch anymore."
At an invitation-only event Wednesday, Worthy will discuss highlights of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative and Enough SAID (Sexual Assault in Detroit), a public-private partnership to raise funds to test, investigate, and prosecute the evidence.
The 11,000-plus rape kits discovered in 2009 contained DNA and other evidence from rape cases, but a majority were never tested in a lab.Through May 2018, 130 people were convicted and 818 serial sex offenders were identified after authorities started investigating earlier batches of the kits.
Thousands of untested kits also have been found at other police departments across the nation.
Worthy said the backlog was addressed by adopting new policies, procedures and legislation and taking a "victim centered, trauma informed, and offender focused approach."
"I hope that all of the work that has been done on this by my office and all of our wonderful collaborators locally and nationally is not in vain. I am hoping that in ten years there will be no such thing as abandoned or backlogged sexual assault kits anywhere.”
Associated Press contributed