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Michigan lawmakers take steps to help victims of sexual assault

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Legislation is moving through the state Legislature to improve the way law enforcement agencies handle evidence in sexual assault cases.

In 2009, more than 11,000 rape kits were discovered unprocessed in a Detroit police storage facility. Some of the sexual assault cases dated back more than 20 years. 

In the years since the discovery, testing has linked the DNA of 100 serial rapists to the kits. A national database has linked samples to crimes committed in about two dozen other states. 

The state Senate Judiciary Committee approved two bills today regulate the handling of “rape kits."

State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, says these bills will close existing loopholes in the system.

“We never, ever want to see 11,000 kits sit in some warehouse in Detroit when we’ve had brave victims come forward and demand justice,” says Jones.

Kathy Hagenian is with the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. She says the legislation also requires law enforcement agencies do a better job communicating with sexual assault victims.

“Making sure victims have concrete information about what will happen next, what they can expect next from law enforcement, and what other resources are going to be available in the community to them to help them going forward both in terms of the case and in terms of healing,” says Hagenian.

State lawmakers are expected to pass the legislation this fall, but implementing it will take more than a year.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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