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Kym Worthy Working Hard For Justice

Finally well-deserved recognition is given to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy for being named among the 125 women of impact.[1]  Certainly most of us are aware of her deeds prosecuting Kwame Kilpatrick and even more recently exposing Robert Ficano to possible improprieties. However, many of us may be well unaware of her long battle in getting 11,303 rape kits tested. Discovered in 2009 these rape kits sat collecting dust in a Detroit Police evidence warehouse. Collected over the last twenty five years and shelved, forgotten like the rape victims of these heinous crimes.[2]  While the evidence sat habitual offenders continued unabated, free to continue their violent behavior. Thanks to these efforts, to date 29 serial rapists have been identified including Shelly Andre Brook who murdered three women in the seven years while his DNA was shelved in one of those kits, according to NBC.[3] [4]

Detroit Police cannot offer any credible reasons how or why such an abomination on victim’s rights could be overlooked. They blamed previous administrations for the failure, but vowed to make amends. In 2009 an internal investigation was done. The DPD randomly picked thirty-six kits to investigate. According to NBC it revealed “victims who refused to prosecute or were uncooperative and assailants who already pleaded to lesser charges”.   With Detroit’s troubled economy and the cost of processing each of these rape kits at $1,200 to $1,500 apiece, it appears to be an insurmountable project. There is in fact light at the end of this tunnel. Armed with a paltry one million dollars of the almost 15 million needed slowly Miss Worthy is getting the work done. The scandalous oversight in Detroit must not be underestimated. Nationwide there is an epidemic of untested rape kits and sexual assaults continue to climb, furthering the epidemic.  The longer the process is delayed the greater the risks for not only future attacks but the ability to arrest and prosecute. Victims who have been assaulted are being asked sometimes as late as seven years after the assault to prosecute their assailants, having to relive the entire ordeal these years later.  As a nation our government owes us this protection and presently they are failing to protect and serve. This is leaving volunteers and foundations to pick up the slack left by public safety, to provide funds and manpower to accomplish their missions.

Joyful Heart Foundation is one of these dedicated to just such a mission. They rely on dedicated organizations and individuals to “end the backlog and begin to deliver a sense of justice to survivors”[5]

Annually in the U.S. there are 200,000 reported cases of rape, each of these cases require rape kits to be collected to ensure convictions.[6] This is a national tragedy and thanks to organizations like Joyful Heart and the dedicated work of Kym Worthy perhaps soon justice will be served. Until then here are some links to where you can help.  http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/advocacy_rapekitbacklog.htm http://www.detroitcrimecommission.org/initiatives.html#RapeKit

[1]Gus Burns, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy Named Among Newsweek/Daily Beast ‘125 Women of Impact” http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2013/04/wayne_county_prosecutor_kym_wo_11.html (accessed April 2, 2013)

[2] Detroit Crime Commission 2012 http://www.detroitcrimecommission.org/initiatives.html#RapeKit (accessed April 2, 2013)

[3] Eric Lacey, “Video: Wayne County Proecutor Kym Worthy takes stand on Detroit’s 10,000 untested rape kits” Courtesy of NBC News Rock Center Kate Snow reporting


[4] Juan Ignacio Blanco, “Murderpedia Shelly Andre Brooks” http://murderpedia.org/male.B/b/brooks-shelly-andre.htm (accessed April 2, 2013)

[5] Joyful Heart Foundation, “Working to End the Rape Kit Backlog http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/advocacy_rapekitbacklog.htm

[6] Heart, Backlog



  1. jaclynnicole says:

    Wow, I’m really impressed. I had never heard of this woman before because I avoid television news most times because I consider it to be too sensational. It really is sad that so many rape kits go untested but I’m glad to see that at least one person is working on getting those finished so that the rapists can be charged and hopefully put away. I’m also glad to see that there is a group who is focused on this as well because I had never heard of it before reading this and I’m really glad I know about them now. Hopefully more people start talking about this soon so that more people want to get involved in this serious issue. I think that it would be a great idea for the government either at the state or federal level, to find a way to make rape kits either less expensive to process or find a way to afford to get them all done so there is no backlog anymore. And along with that if people see that rapists are getting persecuted then maybe more people who have been raped will come forward.

  2. ninazm21 says:

    I’ve heard a lot about the many issues facing detroit in regards to crime, schools, corruption etc. but this is one that I was in the dark about. The idea that there are over 11,000 rape kits(cases) in Detroit that have not even been investigated is devastating. I know the city faces so many adversities economically and socially but how can anyone expect the emergence of a thriving city when over 11,000 cases of rape have been ignored and are continually ignored or pushed aside. How can anyone expect a different Detroit when 11,000 people reported rape and were ignored and never received justice or closure. Or when there are all these rapists who roam free in the city undoubtedly many of whom are repeat offenders. I commend Kim Worthy for her actions regarding this matter and I definitely think it’s a topic that deserves much more media coverage. Thanks for writing a blog about this!!

  3. lkkeilma says:

    I’m glad you posted this. I remember those kits being found in that warehouse but I hadn’t heard any updates. Kym Worthy is awesome for Detroit!

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