Kym Worthy – that’s a name out of a superhero comic in itself, isn’t it? – is Detroit’s prosecutor and she’s trying to get 11,000 rape kits that have never been processed by the Detroit police into the system in hopes of solving some of these crimes.
Today Worthy is a prosecutor in Detroit, with a much different perspective. Her decision not to report the crime, she says, was “all justification and rationalization.” Now she is on a singular mission: seeking justice for people who do report their rapes. She’s leading a charge to get more than 11,000 police rape kits—which contain swabs of semen, saliva, and other evidence—tested for DNA in her city, and to establish a road map for other U.S. cities to do the same. In Detroit the kits had piled up, ignored for years, in a police storage facility, until one of Worthy’s colleagues discovered them in 2009.
And that’s the women who came forward.
Another article discusses how exactly these rape kits work in helping get rapists prosecuted:
While the DNA test results identified assailants in stranger-rape cases, they also created leads in cases that police and prosecutors were not expecting. For example, prosecutors told me of tying the same assailant to multiple acquaintance-rape cases that might otherwise have been difficult to move through the criminal-justice system. Said one, “We had an assailant who raped drug addicts coming to him to buy drugs. These are women who may be particularly vulnerable to rape because of their addictions or their socioeconomic status, but whose cases are hard to get a jury to believe. But when we could connect the same guy to a number of rapes, we could get a conviction.”
One of the reasons they don’t get processed is because so often women know the rapist, and so police have found doing the rape kit redundant – they already know who the suspect is.
A rape arrest rate that hasn’t changed since the late 1970s is a national travesty. Imagine anything else having stayed the same in that 40 years: no cell phones, computers, or cable TV, for starters.