110 untested rape kits under the microscope

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Law enforcement agencies across Ingham County have tested more than a hundred rape kits, some of which date back more than a decade.

There were 110 untested rape kits to be exact, and they’re spread across the different departments that cover the county.

6 News is still working to find out how many each department is responsible for, but we know that at least one of them dates back to 2006.

Once the tests are complete, the Ingham County Prosecutors office wants an attorney familiar with these types of investigations to review the cases to see if they warrant any criminal charges.

That person could be Catherine Emerson, who is a retired assistant prosecutor.

The prosecutor’s office says it does not have the resources to take on a project like this, so on Thursday during the county commissioners Law and Courts meeting, members will vote to allow the Attorney General to pay for the special prosecutor to handle it.

So far, we’ve learned that of those the Ingham County Sheriff’s office had 23 untested kits from the years 2006 to 2014.

We want to be clear, however that this testing phase has nothing to do with a previous evidence issue at the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office where evidence went missing.

This is a separate initiative that’s been underway for a couple years now.

The last kit from the Ingham County Sheriff’s office specifically, was sent for testing back in November of 2016.

“These are cases where the kits weren’t tested for a valid reason,” Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said.

That could be a situation where a victim decided not to press charges against another person, or a case where law enforcement officials didn’t know who the suspect was and the victim decided not to prosecute if that suspect was identified.

“When the law changed, they wanted all the kits tested whether they were needed for prosecution or not, it took us a while to identify which kits those were, we sent them in, it’s taken a while to get the results back and now that the results are coming back, those are the cases the prosecutor’s office wants to take another look at,” Wriggelsworth said.

“This is all good stuff, good for the victims of these crimes and as far as the sheriff’s office goes, we did everything right with these kits both at the time we collected them,” Sheriff Wriggelsworth said. “When the SAKI initiative took place, we went through all the records and sent in the kits we needed to just like we were asked to.”

It’s also worth mentioning that our state didn’t always mandate rape kits be tested, however that changed in 2014.

6 News is expecting to learn more in the coming days including the number of kits that each police department has in the county.

In the meantime, this issue will be a topic of discussion on Thursday night during the Ingham County Board of Commissioners Law and Courts meeting.

Stay with 6 News for updates on this story.

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