11,341 abandoned rape kits identify 817 serial rapists in one Michigan county

In Michigan's Wayne County, Prosecutor Kym Worthy has spent years processing 11,341 rape kits. The kits, found in 2009, were forgotten in a police storage warehouse, where they were routinely dumped without investigation.

Over 800 serial rapists, criminals who have struck 10-15 times without being stopped, were identified. 127 convictions have been made this far.

The Detroit Free Press' Nancy Kaffer interviewed Worthy:

Q: All the things you were talking about, the better tracking system, the new guidelines for when rape kits get tested ... in the National Institute of Justice report on the backlog (by Michigan State University Professor Rebecca Campbell), the big takeaway there was that too often, officers didn't believe victims, and had used disbelief as a way to triage their workload.

A: They just closed cases, even cases where I think they believed the victim ... They closed cases because the women had worked as prostitutes or had mental illness issues or had substance abuse. Didn't believe them, didn't care, and this was one issue that led to the backlog of these kits.

Q: That's something we look for in certain victims — when the victim is a teenage boy of color, or a woman who has been raped, we want them to be perfect. They can't have had a drink or have worked as a prostitute, and if they have, there's a mindset that makes them almost ineligible to be a victim.

A: One of the reasons we have these untested rape kits ... and I can use Detroit as an example, 86% of our victims in these untested kits are people of color. Read the rest