It is no secret that rape is a huge problem in America. One of the biggest reasons for that is the fact that rape kits often go unprocessed, sometimes for many years. One of the worst offenders in this area is Detroit, Michigan’s so-called justice system.
Actress Mariska Hargitay, known for her roles as sex crimes detective Sergeant Olivia Benson on Law and Order: SVU, has teamed up with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to solve Michigan’s problem of untested rape kits. The duo will be working with state lawmakers to draft legislation that would set time limits and other guidelines regarding the testing of rape kits.
They are certainly on the right track here, because more than 11,000 untested rape kits were found in an abandoned warehouse in Detroit, some of them more than 25 years old. Even more disturbing than that is the fact that the testing of the kits uncovered the identities of roughly 100 serial rapists and 10 convicted rapists. Some of the serial rapists had gone on to rape again in 23 other US states, crimes that would have been prevented if these rape kits had been processed, as they should have been. Further, since only 1600 of the 11,000 kits have been tested thus far, who knows how many more serial rapists will be discovered?
Hargitay, who runs an organization for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence called the Joyful Heart Foundation, says of the discovery:
“I was in shock. I was outraged and I just assumed kits were being tested. Testing rape kits is vital for keeping rapists off the street. “
Hargitay is right, of course, as is proven by a case that came to light due to Kym Worthy’s pushing to have these rape kits processed. Being called the “Detroit Rape Kit Project,” the testing of these old kits have helped solve decades old crimes. One such instance is the case of Deshawn Starks, who is now facing 45-90 years in prison. Starks robbed and raped a woman in February of 2003. Had her rape kit been processed sooner, the other woman that he raped later that year may have been spared that trauma. The same is true of the two friends he raped in November 2013. But, instead, both rape kits from Starks’ original two crimes sat abandoned and unprocessed for 10 years.
This is why testing rape kits is so important, and why what Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Mariska Hargitay are doing is so vitally important to our society. They are right to be as upset as they are. In fact, we should all be just as outraged. Who knows? If enough people get angry, these heinous miscarriages of justice might become a thing of the past.
Watch news video of Hargitay and Worthy’s press conference below:
H/T: WXYZ News