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Ottawa County on extreme low end of untested sexual assault kits

Becky Vargo • Feb 3, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The Michigan State Police are moving forward with testing and potential investigation and prosecution involving more than 1,800 untested sexual assault evidence kits found by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office survey of 82 counties outside of Wayne County.

Testing of the backlogged kits in the Detroit area, found in 2009, was completed last September, officials said 

The largest number of untested sexual assault kits – by department – includes Flint with 261, Battle Creek with 239, Grand Rapids with 199 and Kalamazoo with 113.

As of the end of January, there was only one untested kit in Ottawa County, at the Zeeland Police Department.

There are five police agencies in Ottawa County including the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, Grand Haven Department of Public Safety, Grand Valley State University Department of Public Safety, Holland Department of Public Safety and Zeeland Police Department.

Results for neighboring counties showed the Muskegon Township Police Department with 24 cases, Muskegon Heights Police Department with 6, Norton Shores Police with 3 and North Muskegon Police Department with 2.

In Kent County, other departments with a backup of cases included the Kent County Sheriff’s Department with 62, the Grandville and Kentwood police departments with 7 each and Lowell Police Department with one.

The outstate survey was initiated by the Attorney General after thousands of untested sexual assault evidence kits were found in an abandoned Detroit crime laboratory.

In the September 2015, survey, police departments were asked to provide of count of untested kits in their possession, so that state authorities could determine the most effective way to help the agencies process those cases.

The counts requested were of the sexual assault victims assaulted before Oct. 1, 2014, which were not previously tested for various reasons. Those reasons could include that the suspect confessed, pled guilty or was already in jail or prison.

Officials are using $1.7 million in funds approved by the legislature and grants awarded to the Michigan State Police.

“Experience shows that testing every kit helps law enforcement solve crimes and stop serial rapists,” said Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Michigan victims of sexual violence are encouraged to call the national sexual assault hotline toll-free, 800-656-HOPE. All calls are confidential, and will be answered by a local counseling center affiliated with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. 

Assistance is also available online at www.rainn.org.

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