The city of Detroit’s mission to test all of its backlogged rape kits dating back as far as the mid-’80s has finally come to an end.
Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy announced Wednesday that more than 11,000 rape kits collected between 1984 and 2009 have been tested, bringing Detroit’s backlog to zero.
“It takes a tremendous amount of strength and courage for survivors to revisit the events of a sexual assault,” said Worthy in a press release. “We understand their decision to come forward is not an easy one but want to reassure them that they are not forgotten and their cases still very much matter. We have now reached a point where we need to reach thousands of survivors to make certain they get answers.”
Now that testing is complete, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is working to continue to investigate the remaining cases. Since the initiative began in 2009, more than 4,800 cases have been closed. Worthy is encouraging all sexual assault survivors who submitted kits over that 25 year span, to review their case status via MyRapeKit.com or a new confidential hotline, 313-224-4111. Operators will take calls 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.
In 2009, 11,341 unprocessed rape kits were discovered in a Detroit Police Department warehouse. The discovery led to efforts to get the tests properly processed and investigated, and resulted in the formation of the Wayne County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force, the group responsible for investigating leads after the abandoned kits had been processed.
For nearly 15 years, Wayne County has worked to catch up on the kits, but experienced some financial challenges along the way. In 2015, it was revealed that the cost to process a single rape kit was $1,500, but the Detroit Crime Commission was able to do so at about $500 per test.
Efforts for funding weren’t just limited to grant and federal requests. In 2016, soul singer Erykah Badu donated show proceeds to go toward funding the tests, and Former Detroit Lions player DeAndre Levy teamed up with Detroit Hustles Harder for the same cause.
To date, the tests have resulted in 841 suspected serial rapists identified and 239 convictions.
For more information on Detroit’s Sexual Assault Kit initiative visit waynecounty.com.