Law & Order actress decries delay in rape kit testing

DETROIT — Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy on Monday enlisted some star power in her push for funding and legislation to help clear a backlog of thousands of untested Detroit rape kits.

Mariska Hargitay, from NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," said during a news conference that the roughly 11,000 untested rape kits found in a Detroit police warehouse in 2009 are part of a nationwide problem and an outrage.

"To me, this is the clearest and most shocking demonstration of how we regard these crimes," said Hargitay, founder and president of the Joyful Heart Foundation, which advocates for rape victims and has made clearing the national rape kit backlog — estimated at 400,000 kits or more — its major priority. "One would assume that if someone endures a four- to six-hour invasive examination, that that evidence would be handled with care."

Worthy said her office, with the help of federal grants and the Michigan State Police and others, has results of DNA testing for 2,000 of the kits, and that testing has already linked the kits to nearly 100 serial rapists, including DeShawn Starks, 32.

Starks — whose DNA linked him to several sexual assaults — was sentenced Monday by a Wayne County circuit judge to serve 45 to 90 years in prison for the crimes.

Starks was charged with multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct as a result of testing performed on untested rape kits found abandoned in a Detroit police warehouse in 2009.



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