Joyful Heart in the News

Thousands of untested rape kits lying in storage in Detroit

February 18, 2013
Canadian Broadcast Radio
Pacinthe Mattar

A disturbing story about law and order today. In the city of Detroit, the woman who holds the job of Chief Prosecutor discovered that thousands of sexual assault cases have been in limbo for decades because evidence from so-called rape kits is languishing on forgotten shelves. It is not a problem unique to Detroit, but it is one that has seen serial rapists, and even murderers, exist undetected for years.

Thousands of untested rape kits lying in storage in Detroit - Kym Worthy

On the popular TV series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, actress Mariska Hargitay plays Detective Olivia Benson, an officer who helps brings justice to victims of sexual crimes.

After the program began, Mariska Hargitay began getting letters from viewers with personal stories of being sexual assaulted.

So, in 2004, she started the Joyful Heart Foundation to help victims of sexual abuse. Three years ago, Mariska Hargitay visited the U.S. House of Representatives to make a very public plea for help in the work that her foundation does. 

One of the women testifying along with Mariska Hargitay that day was Kym Worthy. She's the prosecutor of Wayne County in Michigan - and she has made it her mission to do something about untested rape kits in her home city of Detroit. In 2009, Kym Worthy learned that there were eleven thousand, three hundred and three rape kits sitting in a police warehouse there, all untested and undocumented. Her goal is to eliminate that backlog by testing every single one of them. Kym Worthy joins us now from Detroit. 

Thousands of untested rape kits lying in storage in Detroit - Sarah Tofte

Detroit isn't the only city in the United States with a backlog of untested rape kits. Sarah Tofte has been looking into this issue for years. She's the Director of Policy and Advocacy with the Joyful Heart Foundation. She's in New York City.

Printer-friendly version

Facebook comments