Efforts boosted to bring charges linked to Detroit rape kits

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan law enforcement agencies plan to put more resources behind efforts to investigate leads and bring charges related to the DNA testing of thousands of sexual assault kits discovered in a Detroit police property storage facility in 2009, officials announced Tuesday.

Details are being finalized, but those involved in the Wayne County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force said they want to increase the rate at which leads will be investigated and prosecuted, prioritized by a focus on the worst offenders, the statute of limitations and the risk to public safety.

"Our duty is to get rapists off our streets and deliver the justice victims are owed," Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement.

Schuette announced the stepped-up efforts along with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, state police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue and Detroit police Chief James Craig.

The task force is funded by participants and a one-time, $3 million state appropriation approved by the legislature last year. Following the development of a work and spending plan, the task force is expected to operate in an expanded capacity until Sept. 30, 2017.

More than 11,000 previously untested rape kits were discovered in 2009, including some dating back to the 1980s. The state police's Forensic Science Division has worked with privately contracted laboratories, police and prosecutors to get the kits tested.

As of last month, the Wayne County prosecutor's office had identified more than 1,130 suspects, including 255 possible serial rapists, and 15 convictions already have been secured. Detroit earlier received $4 million from the state to specifically work on testing kits.

"These additional resources will enable us to not only continue our work on the Detroit cases, but will enable us to follow through on DNA hits outside of Wayne County and the state," said Worthy, who has championed efforts to get the kits tested.

Published: Thu, May 21, 2015