Detroit Prosecutor Kym Worthy Discusses 11,000 Untested Rape Kits With Brian Williams

Illustration for article titled Detroit Prosecutor Kym Worthy Discusses 11,000 Untested Rape Kits With Brian Williams

We've spent a fair amount of time chronicling the battle of badass Kym Worthy, the Wayne County, Michigan prosecutor who stumbled on over 11,000 untested rape kits at a former police storage warehouse back in 2009, the lack of funding Worthy was faced with even after arranging for a federal grant of one million dollars, and the emotional trauma incurred once again by the women who must revisit their rape, in some cases languishing a decade for lack of DNA evidence.


Yesterday Worthy appeared on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams to discuss the progress in Detroit as well as its influence on the rest of the nation, whose attention have now been drawn to their own backlog of untested rape kits, each of which costs between $1,200 and $1,500 to test. So far, 600 of the Detroit kits have been tested, and prosecutors have discovered evidence of no less than 21 serial rapists. While his DNA sat on the shelf from 2002 to 2008, untested, one convict, Shelly Brooks raped and murdered five women. (Writing that actually made me nauseous.)

The idea of these sexual assault victims undergoing the invasive rape kit procedure so quickly after their trauma, only to result in bureaucratic red tape and slow-moving forensic work rendering their bravery futile, is no less than rage-blackout inducing.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

"To know that we had all of these potential victims sitting out there, all of them, mostly women, and nothing had been done, was just truly appalling," Worthy told Williams. She also divulged that she had been sexually assaulted during her time in law school, but did not report her case.


"This may sound strange, but I think what happened to me [then] happened for a reason and kind of led me into what I'm doing now. I always felt that way. And I always felt that that was a part of what made me a very good prosecutor, and certainly that is part of everything that I do."

'Prosecutor leads effort to test long-abandoned rape kits, brings justice to victims' [Rock Center/NBC News]



I'm not at all suggesting that these things are too expensive to test (everyone deserves justice and scarcely more than a thousand dollars is a small price to pay to allow a community to incarcerate a rapist), but can't we make these things cheaper? Or are they already cheap as far as medical tests go? I'm sort of in the woods on this one—it just seems like a lesser person/bureaucrat would justify (to themselves, though certainly not to me or other decent people) that the price is too high to test or something.