Detroit News: Worthy pushes for more funding to prosecute rapists

Washington — Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy met Wednesday with Michigan’s two senators and other members of the congressional delegation, seeking more funding to help prosecute suspected rapists.

In 2009, more than 11,300 untested rape kits were found in Detroit dating back to 1984. With $4 million from the state and support from advocacy groups, testing has been completed and found significant evidence of serial rapists.

Worthy said last year that testing of some kits had identified 127 potential serial rapists — and has resulted in 15 convictions to date. In a testing of 2,000 kits, there were 473 hits in the national DNA database, including hits linking to crimes in 23 other states. Worthy said earlier this year she needs money to hire 25 additional investigators and 10 additional prosecutors.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, were among Michigan lawmakers who met with Worthy on Wednesday — and both pledged to work to help her office to receive Justice Department grants to prosecute suspected rapists. Also attending were U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, and Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield.

“We need to make sure there’s prosecutions and people are brought to justice,” Stabenow said in an interview. The prosecutor’s office has identified hundreds of potential suspects “and they don’t have the staff, the investigators to go out and find them.”

Stabenow said she and the Michigan delegation are working with Worthy to try to land a significant grant to deal with the backlog. She praised support from the Wayne County executive’s office and Mayor Mike Duggan.

“We’re talking about not only saving lives and getting criminals off the streets, but stopping future rapists,” Stabenow said. “There are serial rapists who are out there right now.”

Worthy “doesn’t just have the resources” to prosecute these cases, Peters said in an interview. “There are serial rapists that are out there today and perpetrating crimes. We can find them and get them off the streets.... The evidence is there, it’s waiting.”

By:  David Shepardson
Source: Detroit News