KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The push to prosecute the perpetrators in unsolved sexual assaults is intensifying — and prosecutor’s offices in West Michigan are leading the charge.
In early 2016, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced there were still about 1,800 untested rape kits in Michigan.
That announcement came years after the stunning reveal in 2009 that more than 10,000 kits had been collecting dust in Detroit.
But now — those kits are being processed — and in West Michigan, the cases are starting to go before a judge.
In Calhoun County, the prosecutor’s office has already earned one conviction after Schuette’s office appointed a special assistant attorney general to review, investigate and prosecute rape kit cases.
In 2013, David Hull was convicted of two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Barry County, court records show.
But months ago, the assistant attorney general investigating untested rape kit cases in Calhoun County was able to connect him to a 2013 sexual assault in Battle Creek. New charges were filed, and earlier this month, Hull pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal sexual conduct.
Schuette’s office also appointed a special assistant attorney general to work on rape kit cases in Genessee and Kalamazoo counties.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting will be receiving even more help to prosecute the cases.
Getting said this week, county commissioners approved an agreement with the attorney general’s office to fund two investigators who will work alongside the assistant attorney general appointed to the county. The investigators are former Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety detectives.
Nearly 200 untested rape kits in Kalamazoo County have been processed, Getting said. Next week, the investigators will begin tackling each case. Getting said he is confident new charges will be filed, thanks in part to advancements in DNA testing.
“The technology today is leaps and bounds from where it was five years ago, 10 years ago, and 20 years ago. The kits that we’re looking at here go back to the 1980s,” Getting told 24 Hour News 8 Friday.
The ultimate goal — Getting said — is finding closure for victims and protection for the general public.
“If we can identify persons that have been involved in these kinds of behaviors — we know that not only are we making sure there’s a consequence for their action, but we’re also protecting the public from it happening again,” Getting said.
No new charges have been filed yet in Kalamazoo County in the rape kit investigations.
Getting said it will likely take two to three years to fully review and prosecute all of the backlogged cases.
State and federal funds have been allocated to pay for the testing of rape kits and investigations that follow, Getting said.