Over 11,000 abandoned rape kits were found in a Detroit Police storage facility in 2009. This means they were untested – some for at least 25 years – and thousands of rapists were free to rape again.
“I was in shock. I was outraged, and I just assumed kits were being tested,” said actress Mariska Hargitay of NBC’s Law and Order: SVU and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation that works to “heal, educate, and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.”
Hargitay has joined Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to help introduce legislation aimed to set guidelines and deadlines for the processing of rape kit tests.
Thanks to the “Detroit Rape Kit Project,” 1,600 rape kits have been processed, identifying 100 serial and 10 convicted rapists. Fourteen rapists have been prosecuted including repeat offender DeShawn Starks, 32.
According to Detroit prosecutors, Starks raped two women in 2003. Both kits remained stored and untested for 10 years, until Worthy stepped in.
Starks went on to rape two more women in 2013. He was just sentenced 45-90 years.