Detroit, MI (WXYZ) - Prosecutor Kym Worthy says only about 1,600 of the approximately 11,000 rape kits found in an old Detroit Police storage warehouse in 2011 have been tested, but her prosecutors are struggling to keep up with the all cases including the rape cases.
"We are a laughing-stock,” said Worthy.
She says she was at a recent conference with prosecutors from around the country. They pointed to Wayne County as an example of how you do not want a prosecutor’s office funded.
She told Wayne County Commissioners that budget cuts forced her to lay off 73 staff members. She says sometimes prosecutors don’t get time to read a case file before trial. They also can’t prosecute cases as quickly as they would like.
“We don’t have the staff to do it,” said Worthy.
Right now there are about 150 rape cases they need to bring to court.
Worthy says the consequences of not bringing rapists to justice has been seen. After Michigan State Police identified more than 300 suspected rapists by processing those abandoned rape kits, they found 59 were serial offenders. Some even became killers after committing the rape that went ignored.
“There are countless stories. We have one who has been linked to 11 rapes. We have one where we knew his name because he had been prosecuted for killing 5 women,” said Worthy.
Worthy says her office is prosecuting cases as quickly as they can, but Wayne County leaders need to give them more funding if they want justice delivered in a timely fashion.
“Wayne County itself isn’t balancing its budget, so the dollars aren’t there,” Wayne County Commissioner Raymond Basham told Worthy as she made her case for more funding today.
“You certainly are preaching to the choir,” said Irma Clark-Coleman, a Wayne County Commissioner.
“I would like for us to look into how we can help,” said Ilona Varga, Wayne County Commissioner. “The executive doesn’t see it the same way.”
Varga is referring to the ongoing feud between Worthy and County Executive Robert Ficano.
Ficano’s office responded with this statement: “Every department could do more with more funding. The reality is, property tax revenue is down $100 million from just a few years ago. While the County Commission found a way to appropriate an additional $4.4 million for the Prosecutor during their budget process earlier this year, it meant that other services had to be cut throughout county operations. Budgets are tight everywhere in the County.”