Assault rape kit identifies suspect

FLINT — Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said the new Sexual Assault Rape Kit Initiative recently awarded to the City of Flint Police Department has already paid dividends with the arrest and prosecution of a Flint man related to sexual assaults that occurred as far back as 2011.

Joseph Kurt Starr, 35, of Flint, has been charged with a total of 11 felonies in three separate cases involving three victims, including one allegedly in Flint Township, according to a press release. The oldest case occurred sometime between 2001 to 2013 in the City of Burton. In that case, Starr is charged with one count of Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree for sexually assaulting someone under the age of 13.

In the second case, Starr is charged with two counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct Second Degree for sexually assaulting a person incapable of consenting due to age in June of 2015. That case is alleged to have occurred in Flint Township.

The third case against Starr involves eight felonies related to an incident that is alleged to have occurred in the City of Flint in August of 2015. In that case, Prosecutor Leyton has charged Starr with one count each of Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree and Unlawful Imprisonment, two counts of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, and four counts of Felony Firearm.

Starr faces a maximum term of up to life in prison or any term of years on the charges.

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant project is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of a nationwide attempt to tackle the tens of thousands of rape cases that have sat dormant for years and have never been tested or investigated for possible prosecution.

In Michigan, there are more than 1,800 untested kits statewide in 82 counties, separate from cases in Wayne County

In Flint, when the problem of untested rape kits came to light in the summer of 2014, the City of Flint had about 500 cases where the sexual assault kits had not been tested. At the time of the grant application in 2015, that number had been whittled down to 246 cases. The U.S. Department of Justice grant provides funding for testing, police officers for investigation, a victim advocate to provide services for the alleged victims, and an assistant prosecutor to review and charge those cases where a suspect is identified and enough probable cause evidence exists. The grant will last for three years.

“There is an old saying that says the wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly,” said Prosecutor Leyton. “This may be a perfect example to show that, while time may go by, and even years may elapse, we never cease to seek justice and hold accountable those who would commit horrible crimes against others,” he said.

“We are grateful for this grant funding and eagerly anticipate the identification and prosecution of others who have been on the run from justice …,” he said.

Starr has been arraigned on the charges in 67th District Court where he will face a preliminary examination. — R.S.

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