Six years ago, Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy was a lone woman fighting for justice after untested rape kits – 11,341 of them – were found abandoned in a Detroit police warehouse. Today, thanks to her efforts and fundraising, over 10,000 have been tested and 2,616 corresponded to DNA in a national crime database.
More than 80 percent of the victims were African American and a fifth were under 16 years old. Authorities have been able to identify 549 serial rapists and noted that from this one county, the kits were linked to crimes in thirty-eight other states. 25 convictions have been made, but there’s still work to be done. “It’s a critical first step for the remaining kits to be tested, but the work is not done until we investigate and prosecute each one of these …” Worthy said. “That’s why we’re raising money.”
This week, Worthy gathered with over 100 prominent African American female leaders on the steps of the Detroit Association of Women’s Clubs to announce their success and ask for help in achieving their goal to test the remaining kits, of which there are over 1,000. Each test costs about $490 dollars, and the women pledged to earn over $600,000 to test the remaining kits and pay for ensuing investigations. “Women from all walks of life, suburban and city, have stepped up to help,” Worthy told Detroit Free Press.
Worthy estimates that $25 million will be needed to fully investigate all of the tested rape kits – $10 million has already been pledged – but that’s only an estimate, because all the victims have not been located. It’s unclear how many are still alive or wish to go forward with charges, especially with the statute of limitations that makes some cases too old to investigate.
Donations to this effort can be made at the African American 490 challenge fundraising site.
Read the full story at Detroit Free Press.