Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,000,000)
SAKI 2021 funds will allow the WCSAKTF to retain personnel that have worked tirelessly on this initiative for several years. The goal of the project has never changed: maintain and enhance WCSAKTF’s ability to hold sexual assault offenders accountable, provide survivors with an opportunity for justice and healing, and prevent similar travesties from reoccurring. While the unsubmitted sexual assault kits were found in 2009 and significant progress has been made in the form of all kits being tested and close to 4,000 of those cases being investigated, there is more work to be done to achieve our goal.
As Wayne County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force (“WCSAKTF”) personnel continue to investigate cases, prosecute offenders, and provide advocacy for sexual assault survivors, new avenues for solving cases, reaching out to survivors, and new cases to be solved have come to the surface.
WCSAKTF has begun exploring Forensic Genetic Genealogy (“FGG”) to identify several of the roughly 197 unknown serial offenders discovered after all kits were tested for DNA. The first case submitted generated five leads that are currently being surveilled to gather discarded/abandoned DNA for confirmation. Ten additional cases have been triaged and deemed viable for FGG.
To expand service for survivors within the project, WCSAKTF will launch a Survivor Opt-In line on August 17, 2021. Providing an opportunity for those survivors making up the 6,887 pending cases to find out the test results for their kit, advocacy services they may not know they are entitled to will be offered when they call. This project includes a privately funded publicity campaign targeting the daily routine of our survivors. The Opt-In line will run for 36 months using SAKI 2021 funds awarded to retain personnel for servicing the Opt-In line callers at Avalon Healing and personnel to investigate the case at the WCPO.
Additional CODIS Hit cold case sexual assaults from 2009 to 2015 will be prosecuted if awarded SAKI 2021 funding. Utilizing the successful cold case sexual assault protocol, WCSAKTF members will be able to provide advocacy services and support, investigation and prosecution of cases that were closed too soon. Applying trauma informed practices to bring long awaited justice to another group of survivors.