A Wayne County Prosecutor has discovered 11,000 rape kits that were never submitted for testing. Kim L. Worthy found the untested rape kits when touring a storage facility belonging to the Detroit Police Department.
Rape kits are used by hospitals to collect DNA evidence from victims of sexual assault and rape. Although the evidence collection can take time and is often difficult for victims, DNA evidence is important in proving cases of sexual assault.
Worthy originally found the rape kits in 2009. As reported by NBC News, she describes how she was disturbed by the discovery:
“What we were potentially looking at, at that time, was over 10,000 rape kits, representing over 10,000 cases where women had reported, whose lives and what had happened to them was sitting on a shelf and nobody cared. I was shocked, and I think I was kind of stunned — and not too much stuns me.”
Worth formed a team to organize the rape kits, some of which were nearly 25 years old. Many were opened and had been exposed to the warm damp atmosphere of the storage facility.
The team of volunteers spent the last four years helping Worthy match kits with names found in old police log books. Unfortunately, organizing 11,000 rape kits only resolved part of the problem. As stated by the Detroit Crime Commission, submitting the kits for testing will cost the Wayne County around $1300 each, for a total of over $13 million.
Worthy was able to apply for grant money to complete testing on 600 of the kits. Lab results reveal “evidence of 21 serial rapists” within those results.
The Detroit Commission is a non-profit organization that has created a fund called the Wayne County Rape Kit Initiative to help cover the cost of testing the rape kits. Prosecutor Worth has come forward as a victim of an unreported sexual assault in an attempt to raise awareness.
Detroit is not the only city in the US that has thousands of rape kits that have never been submitted for testing. It is a national problem, primarily in larger cities. Worthy hopes that by raising awareness and gathering funding, it will “give hope to women who were ignored.”