In Michigan, Wayne County’s head prosecutor is bringing justice yet again. Kym Worthy, along with a band of Detroit women, have pushed to get 30 years’ worth of accumulated untested rape kits processed. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s more than 11,000.
According to The New York Times, it wasn’t a question of whether to test the rape kits, but rather the incredible cost of doing so. At $1,500 each, analyzing each kit amounted to nearly $17 million, which Worthy’s department did not have. With just three sex crimes investigators on the payroll, they didn’t have the staff to investigate whatever evidence they found, either.
Worthy sprung into action, recruiting donations from everyone and anyone. Eventually she secured a federal grant to handle 2,000 kits and “conduct a study on how sexual assault victims are treated in the criminal justice system.” A few years later, Worthy got $4 million more to test 8,000 additional kits and bargained the rape kit testing price down to just $490 each. But between all of those wins, 1,341 untested kits remained untouched with just one pair of investigators looking into new cases. Then the Detroit business community got involved.
Joanna Cline, chief marketing officer for a wall decal company called Fathead, saw Worthy’s pitch for getting the rape kits tested on television and was touched. She messaged 200 of her fellow business people in The D and found many small businesses were called into action. A public-private organization called Enough SAID (Sexual Assault in Detroit) was started, garnering millions for rape kit testing and aid to the sex abuse investigators’s efforts. Donors include Sheryl Sandberg, who gave $25,0000.
Soon a lady-run marketing agency called Brogan & Partners stepped in, partially pro bono, to help with Enough SAID’s public campaign. Another group of black businesswomen also gathered with the goal of raising $657,090 by next year’s end to test more rape kits.
In the wake of all of this team work, Worthy says her office has identified 652 people suspected of being “serial sexual assault offenders and had secured 27 convictions.” 182 cases are currently under investigation and 1,598 more are awaiting a chance to be investigated.
In 2014, Michigan also passed a state law mandating that rape kits be tested within 90 days to prevent this type of backup in the future.
Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.
Image via AP.