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Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is using some star power in her efforts to process a backlog of hundreds of untested rape kits.

Hollywood actress Mariska Hargitay, star of the popular hit show “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” is scheduled to hold a news conference Monday along with Worthy to raise awareness for the office’s rape kits issue.

Hargitay, president of the Joyful Heart Foundation, will join Worthy at an 11:30 a.m. press conference at Worthy’s office in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.

Worthy told city officials Tuesday it remains a struggle for her to process more than 10,000 untested rape kits because her office is “severely” understaffed. She said due to county budget cuts, her office is down 90 staffers, with no decrease in work.

So far, federal and state money — including several million dollars committed from the state last summer — have allowed the office to test about 1,600, she said. Each kit, Worthy added, cost about $1,200 to $1,500 to process.

Some of the unprocessed rape kits date back 25 years and the statute of limitations has expired.

Worthy is expected to discuss Monday the Detroit Rape Kit Project and the proposed Sexual Assault Kit Evidence Submission Act bill in Lansing, which establishes time lines for law enforcement agencies to pick up the kits and have them tested at laboratories across the state.

Hargitay and her foundation, along with law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, have been a big part of the effort to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits, the prosecutor’s office in a press release Friday.

There are about 400,000 untested rape kits in police departments and crime labs across the country, according to the Joyful Heart Foundation’s website. The foundation also has an initiative, endthebacklog.org, aimed at raising awareness about efforts to fund programs and efforts to end rape kit backlogs in cities across the country.


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