Kym Worthy was a first-year law student at the University of Notre Dame when she was raped. A man approached her from behind as she jogged one night, throwing a cloth over her head and pulling her to the ground. That was some 30 years ago; she never reported the attack. “Things were different then,” she says. “And I was young.”

 

Today Worthy is a prosecutor in Detroit, with a much different perspective. Her decision not to report the crime, she says, was “all justification and rationalization.” Now she is on a singular mission: seeking justice for people who do report their rapes. She’s leading a charge to get more than 11,000 police rape kits—which contain swabs of semen, saliva, and other evidence—tested for DNA in her city, and to establish a road map for other U.S. cities to do the same. In Detroit the kits had piled up, ignored for years, in a police storage facility, until one of Worthy’s colleagues discovered them in 2009.

“I was flabbergasted,” says Worthy, recalling the day she found out about the scandal. “When victims go through a three-hour-plus rape-kit exam, they expect police to use the evidence to catch the rapist.”

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