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The Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney's Office (WCPAO) will use its SAKI grant awards to address 11,304 previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) dated 1984 to 2009. Under these grants, a group of multidisciplinary stakeholders will seek justice for victims by properly investigating and prosecuting the unprecedented volume of cases that has resulted from SAK testing.
In FY2015, the WCPAO received a SAKI grant for $1,999,109. These funds were used to hire and train sexual assault investigators, prosecutors, and community-based victim advocates. Funding was also used to purchase a case management system to bolster efficacy, automate data reporting, increase transparency, and provide training.
In FY2017, the WCPAO was awarded an additional $1.5 million through SAKI. This funding has supported investigations and prosecutions that are the result of testing previously unsubmitted SAKs from Wayne County law enforcement agencies within Wayne County outside of Detroit. Funding was also used to create senior detective/mentor positions, continue funding for five detective positions, and develop a system for victims to obtain information about their previously unsubmitted SAKs and resulting investigations.
In FY2018, the WCPAO received another $1.5 million SAKI award. This funding is being used to continue supporting grant-funded personnel and to assist with entering cases into the FBI's Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP).
In FY2019, the WCPAO was awarded an additional $1 million through SAKI. This funding will continue supporting investigations and prosecutions that are the result of testing previously unsubmitted SAKs. Funding will also be used to (1) continue to support multiple positions (e.g., detectives, victim advocates, and prosecutors) and (2) implement a system for victims to obtain information about their previously unsubmitted SAKs and resulting investigations.
In FY2020, WCPAO received an additional $999,755 in SAKI funding to continue work from previous SAKI awards, including the investigation and prosecution of over 6,500 cases in which the SAK did not reveal any male DNA. The funding will also be used to continue the work of the Wayne County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force (WCSAKTF) committee that will establish a new protocol for victim notification on these cases with no male DNA.
In FY2021, WCPAO was awarded an additional $1 million in SAKI funding to retain personnel as well as to maintain and enhance WCSAKTF's ability to hold sexual assault offenders accountable, provide survivors with an opportunity for justice and healing, and prevent similar tragedies from reoccurring. WCSAKTF has begun exploring Forensic Genetic Genealogy ("FGG") to identify several of the roughly 197 unknown serial offenders discovered after all SAKs were tested for DNA. The first submitted case generated five leads that are currently being surveilled to gather discarded/abandoned DNA for confirmation, and 10 additional cases have been triaged and deemed viable for FGG. To expand service for survivors within the project, WCSAKTF has launched a Survivor Opt-In line.
In FY2022, WCPAO received an additional $1.5 million grant to continue the development of comprehensive protocols, to follow identification and use of best practices, and to expand the use of an offender-focused, trauma-informed, and victim-centered response to sexual assault. Funding will be primarily used to support critical personnel through investigation of approximately 6,000 remaining cases, including advanced DNA testing methodologies and use of ViCAP.
Initially funded in FY2015, the WCPAO has used SAKI funding to achieve several goals and milestones, including the following:
For more information on the specific SAKI awards for this site, see the table below.
|FY2015||$1,999,109||Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits|
|FY2017||$1,500,000||Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits|
|FY2018||$1,500,000||Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits|
|FY2019||$1,000,000||Investigation and Prosecution of Cold Case Sexual Assaults|
|FY2020||$999,755||Investigation and Prosecution of Cold Case Sexual Assaults|
|FY2021||$1,000,000||Investigation and Prosecution of Cold Case Sexual Assaults|
|FY2022||$1,500,000||Investigation and Prosecution of Cold Case Sexual Assaults|
Find more updates and reports from the Detroit Rape Kit Project.
Please direct all media inquiries to:
To learn more about WCPAO's progress, read the following news and events.
‘11,000 to Zero’ campaign seeks those affected by Detroit’s rape kit backlog
WDET.org, Dec 1, 2022
"The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office has launched the “11,000 to Zero” campaign as part of its rape kits backlog review. In 2009, an Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor discovered a warehouse containing 11,341 rape kits, dating back to 1984, that had never been tested. Last month, the prosecutor’s office announced that all of those kits have now been tested."
Testing complete on 11K+ rape kits found in Wayne County from 1984-2009
WXYZ Detroit, Nov 16, 2022
"The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said 11,000 rape kits that were discovered in 2009 have finally been tested. “It takes a tremendous amount of strength and courage for survivors to revisit the events of a sexual assault,” said Worthy. “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.”
Detroit serial rapist sentenced to prison after DNA matches rape kits dating back to 2007
Fox 2 Detroit, Sep 14, 2022
"A serial rapist who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting five Detroit women and girls was sentenced to 25-50 years in prison Wednesday. In 2019, DNA was submitted to Parabon Nanolabs for DNA and genetic genealogy analysis. Based on the testing, a list of related male suspects was created. One of the suspects was Wells. After a complete DNA analysis, the known DNA buccal swab of Wells was confirmed to match all five of the sexual assault kits for the cases, and he was arrested in July 2021."
New Murder Charges Prompt Questions about Backlog of Rape Test Kits
Brian Thompson, MI Headlines, Sep 19, 2019
New murder charges were announced on Wednesday September 18th, 2019 against DeAngelo Martin, serial offender.
Michigan certified for 'best practices' in rape kit testing
Oralandar Brand-Williams , The Detroit News, May 18, 2019
To date,all of the rape kits found in Wayne County, MI have been tested and 826 suspected serial offenders have been identified. There are 240 cases being actively investigated and 431 cases awaiting investigation.
Detroit plays crucial role in Mariska Hargitay-produced documentary on untested rape kits
Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, Apr 8, 2018
The HBO documentary “I Am Evidence” highlights the work of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to address Detroit’s backlog of previously unsubmitted SAKs.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy hosts Detroit Sexual Assault Summit (interview)
Holly Fournier and Candice Williams The Detroit News, Sep 26, 2016
The first Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Summit, hosted by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, drew hundreds of attendees from across the nation and dozens of attendees from Michigan cities to discuss how best to handle sexual assault cases. Michigan has tested the vast majority of its untested sexual assault kits, but about 700 remain. Currently, Detroit has over 60 convictions and identified 770 serial rapists, as well as thousands of additional suspects. Furthermore, the DNA testing of the serial rapists ties them to a variety of crimes in 39 other states. To learn more about how Detroit went from a city with the worst backlog of rape kits to the front line of the charge against sexual assault, read the full interview with Prosecutor Worthy.
Detroit Rape Kit Project
Wayne County, Sep 1, 2016
Lengthy Prison Sentence For Man In Case Tied To Abandoned Rape Kits
CBS Detroit, May 16, 2016
The Wayne County has prosecuted dozens of convictions from testing backlogged sexual assault kits. In May, one of those offenders was sentenced to 75 years in prison for a case prosecuted by the Michigan Attorney General's Office.
Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative aims to create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to sexual assault cases. Through this program, funding is provided to support multidisciplinary community response teams engaged in the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits.