December 8, 2020
LANSING – As teams of experts around the state continue to follow-up on new leads in unsolved sexual assault crimes, Attorney General Dana Nessel is commending the critical work of Michigan’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). The goal of this program is to address the previously untested sexual assault kits and, when possible, provide resolutions for victims.
The Legislature supported continued funding for this initiative in late September. The $1.46 million appropriation will fund the investigation and prosecution of cases arising from previously untested sexual assault kits in Calhoun, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. While the funds are appropriated through the Attorney General’s office, elected prosecutors in each county will oversee the initiative at the local level.
“I am pleased with the Legislature’s bipartisan support for this initiative as the SAKI teams throughout the state continue their critical work in bringing offenders to justice and providing peace of mind to survivors,” Nessel said. “These experienced and specialized teams are supporting survivors and keeping their communities safe, while also establishing effective practices for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases.”
The funding supports a SAKI team of highly skilled professionals – comprised of a prosecutor, investigator and victim advocate in each of the six counties – to review cases. This team approach is recognized as best practice for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases by drawing on the vast experience of each professional.
The Michigan Legislature funded the testing of all 3,600 untested rape kits across the state in 2013. In 2016, funding was expanded to include financial support for the investigation and prosecution of these cases. The program has expanded over the years to also include six counties, with State funding for both the Washtenaw and Wayne counties sites being authorized in fiscal year 2020.
With a number of closed and/or ongoing cases, several SAKI programs throughout the state have made headway as teams continue to investigate cases. County-specific case lists for several of the SAKI programs are available online at the links below.
Since the continued funding was secured, Washtenaw County has hired Robert Hedges for its SAKI project. Hedges brings a wealth of experience to the team having retired from the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office this past summer. He has more than 20 years of prosecution experience and will be a valuable asset as the Washtenaw County SAKI program ramps up operations.
With an established SAKI program in place since 2010, the funds will allow for an additional state-funded prosecutor to be added to the Wayne County team. The addition will add to the SAKI program that has seen success in over 224 convictions and having identified more than 800 serial offenders. The Wayne County SAKI program is currently seeking applications for qualified individuals.
Please note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.