The issue of backlogged rape kits has received a significant amount of press in recent years. Everyone from NPR to the Huffington Post has covered the subject, instigating a slow, angry pressure that has built across the U.S. in an effort to instigate change. Michigan was at the forefront of that movement.
Detroit alone had over ten thousand untested rape kits, sitting in boxes in storage. Courtesy of a push started by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Detroit began to address their rape kit backlog in 2010. Thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the research arm of the Department of Justice, they were able to begin addressing sex crimes that took place decades ago. Another $75,000 was contributed by the Joyful Heart Foundation, owned by Law and Order: SVU actress Mariska Hargitay.
The ball was rolling in Detroit and Wayne County. In the wake of the city’s bankruptcy, the Detroit Crime Commission joined forces with the Michigan Women’s Foundation to create Enough SAID (Sexual Assault in Detroit). Private contributions began to trickle in. The trickle became a stream, became a river. Things were looking promising in Detroit. But Detroit wasn’t the only city to face massive challenges.
Flint has been in the public eye in the last year, courtesy of the Flint water crisis which received a great deal of nationwide press coverage. When they discovered 261 untested rape kits in evidence storage during a statewide survey in September 2015, one would assume it would have been all over headlines. However, this information was somewhat drowned out by their other issues at the time.
This is where the Bureau of Justice Assistance‘s, Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant comes in. The grant, which totals $999,979, is meant to provide for the overtime that will be accrued as the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division and the Biometrics and Identification Division review those rape kits. It’s also intended to fund MSP’s local partners conducting research and investigations stemming from the rape kit results.
We believe that it is important for our readers to note that some of these rape kits are almost thirty years old. While there is presently no statute of limitations on First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, many other forms of sexual assault do have a period of time in which the law says they must be prosecuted. In addition, CSC 1st degree formerly had time limitations that would likely apply to crimes committed 30 years ago in Flint or anywhere else in Michigan.
For example, according to Michigan law Criminal Sexual Conduct in the second degree, third degree, fourth degree, or sexual assault must be prosecuted within 10 years after the offense is committed, or by the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later. If DNA evidence is used, prosecution must begin within 10 years after the individual is identified or by the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later.
If you or a loved one are being accused of rape, or any other form of sexual assault as a result of a recently tested rape kit, you are going to need a highly skilled defense attorney on your side. These types of cases are going to be much more challenging than usual sex crime assault cases. Most of the evidence is old, witnesses have long forgotten the facts, and so much time has passed. But don’t leave anything to chance! Call 866-766-5245 to talk to one of our experienced sex crime defense attorneys now. We are here to help.