Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy has put his money where his heart is. The outspoken advocate against domestic violence and rape is partnering with the Detroit Hustles Harder clothing line to sell “Our Issue” T-shirts. All of the proceeds from the shirts will go to the Enough SAID program in Detroit. Enough SAID is a collaboration between multiple organizations and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office—run by the indomitable Kym Worthy—and is raising money to test more 11,000 rape kits found in a warehouse in the motor city in 2009.
In a recent Instagram post, Levy said in part that “#DomesticViolence and #SexualAssault aren’t just women’s issues. They’re #OurIssue.”
TNT is now developing Conviction, a legal drama inspired by the life of Kym Worthy, the chief prosecutor of Wayne County, MI, known as the toughest woman in Detroit.
How To Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis is executive producing the project with Debra Martin Chase (Sparkle). Empire co-executive producer Ayanna Floyd is writing the script and executive producing. The project was originally developed at ABC during the 2014-2015 season with another writer. ABC has a legal drama pilot Conviction this season, which is unrelated to this project.
Worthy became the second African-American to serve as a county prosecutor in Michigan when she was appointed chief prosecutor of Wayne County in 2004. She is known for a number of high-profile cases, like filing charges against Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and her campaign to clear a massive backlog of 11,000 unprocessed rape test kits in Detroit.
Davis and and her producing partner Julius Tennon executive produce through their JuVee Productions, Martin Chase through her Martin Chase Prods. Both companies have deals with ABC Studios, which originally developed the project when it was at ABC but is not actively involved in the TNT version. Also executive producing are Floyd as well as Kim Swann and Leah Keith who brought Worthy’s story to Hollywood. Worthy is a consultant.
A broad coalition of women’s groups is coming together to raise awareness about sexual assault and to propel black women to be a force for getting Detroit’s languishing rape kits processed.
The coalition is named the African American 490 Challenge because it is urging black women, individually and collectively, to raise multiples of $490, the cost of processing a single rape kit. The group will kick off its efforts at a gathering Tuesday morning to be attended by leaders of several black women’s service organizations, sororities and other supporters.
Their effort buttresses the work of Enough SAID (Enough Sexual Assault In Detroit), the rape kit testing and investigation effort being led by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthyand the Michigan Women’s Foundation. Worthy has been leading a campaign to get kits tested since learning five years ago that more than 11,300 kits — the key investigative evidence of assault taken from women during a physical exam — were left unopened and untested in a police storage unit.
State, local, private and public funds have resulted from Worthy’s efforts, and donations have poured in from all over the country. The African American 490 Challenge is working with Enough SAID and plans to raise at least $650,000.
“I think this is a fabulous effort,” said Worthy, who will attend Tuesday’s meeting. “If ever there’s an issue these women should get behind, it’s this one. The support they’ll be able to amass will be essential to our success.”
About 10,000 kits have been tested since an assistant prosecutor discovered them in a police storage unit in 2009. More than 1,000 kits have yet to be tested, and money is needed to complete the investigations of those assaults, Worthy said.
Investigations of the kits thus far have revealed that more than 500 rapists were serial offenders, according to data from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
More than 80% of victims associated with the rape kits are African-American women, according to data released by the foundation.
“They look like my mother, my aunts, our sisters, our daughters, our nieces,” said Maureen Stapleton, a local leader of the Links and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, two community service organizations tailored to African-American women.
Stapleton joined forces with civic leader Kim Trent and public relations executive Darci McConnell in spearheading the coalition. Trent was moved to action by a Facebook debate that seemed to place the blame for sexual assault on women.
“I decided I needed to do something constructive with my anger,” said Trent, a member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors. “We want to come together to say: ‘This is unacceptable, and we are black women who stand ready to make sure this never happens again, and that the women it happened to get justice.’ ”
Both Trent and McConnell said they were victims of sexual assault, and neither reported it. Trent said statistics show that the majority of women don’t report sexual assault. “Those who do deserve to have their day in court,” especially given the invasive procedure required to obtain rape kits.
“We want to make sure that people understand how serious this is, and that they don’t do what many of us did, which was to keep quiet and retreat,” McConnell said.
The coalition has begun raising money through an online donation site — crowdrise.com/AfricanAmerican490Challenge — and has gained the support of local businesses owned by black women, including two spas — Woodhouse Day spa in Detroit and Lavender Mobile Spa — that are donating part of profits to the effort.
Additionally, the group is encouraging black womens groups, book clubs and other organizations to host fund-raising house parties and other events to raise money.
“The great majority of the victims of these unsolved crimes are black women,” states the coalition’s fund-raising page. “Our mothers. Our sisters. Our daughters. Our neighbors. Our aunts. Our cousins. Our friends. Women who look and live like us. Now is the time for black women to use our voices and resources to show sexual assault victims that they have not been forgotten.”
UPCOMING SPA EVENTS
The two spas are holding fundraising efforts this month for the African American 490 Challenge are:
The Woodhouse Day Spa, 1447 Woodward Ave., which will donate 10% of its profits on Oct. 22 to the challenge. In addition, there will be a reception for supporters 5-7:30 p.m. that day. The reception is free and open to the public.
Lavender Mobile Spa will host a fund-raiser at the Westin Hotel in Southfield 1500 Town Center, Southfield, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 24.
A suburban Detroit police officer who was seen on dash-cam video dragging a black man from his car before kicking and punching him repeatedly will be charged with two felony counts, a county prosecutor said Monday.
A drug possession charge against the man, Floyd Dent, 57, will be dropped, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. Dent’s treatment by Inkster police during a Jan. 28 traffic stop sparked outrage after the video was released by NBC affiliate WDIV.
“We cannot turn our heads when the law enforcer becomes the law breaker,” Worthy said during a news conference Monday. “The alleged police brutality in this case cannot and will not be tolerated.”
William Melendez, who allegedly punched Dent 16 times while keeping him in a chokehold during an arrest, will be charged with one count of mistreatment of a prisoner and one count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, Worthy said.
WDIV had also later released a video that showed officers stripping Dent to his underwear and searching him while he was being held in jail.
If convicted, Melendez could face up to 15 years in prison.
Inkster City Manager Richard Marsh said in a statement that Melendez had been fired from the Inkster Police Department on April 15, “which I and others believe was in the best interest of our community.” Marsh said he wouldn’t comment further on the charges “in order to preserve the integrity of both the criminal and the civil actions surrounding Officer Melendez’s employment.”
Melendez is working part-time at the Highland Park Police department, according to WDIV. The department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from NBC News.
The case was independently investigated by the Michigan State Police and separately by the Wayne County Prosecutors Office.
Charges against Dent of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer were dropped after the video was released nearly two months after the incident occurred. A count of possession of cocaine remained, but Dent claimed the drugs were planted in his car. The drug charge against Dent was dropped “in the best interest of justice,” Worthy said.
”How To Get Away With Murder” star Viola Davis is about to step behind the camera for her next project… another ABC drama, about another powerful female lawyer.
Davis and her producing partner Julius Tennon have teamed with producer Debra Martin Chase (“Sparkle”) for “Conviction,” a legal drama inspired by the life of Kym Worthy, the chief prosecutor of Wayne County, MI, known as the toughest woman in Detroit, reports Deadline.com.
Worthy became the second African-American to serve as a county prosecutor in Michigan when she was appointed as chief prosecutor of Wayne County in 2004. She is known for a number of high-profile cases, like filing charges against Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and her campaign to clear a massive backlog of 11,000 unprocessed rape test kits in Detroit.
The script is being written by Jason Wilborn (“Damages”), with Jeff Melvoin (“Army Wives”) on board as show runner. Davis and Tennon are executive producing through their JuVee Productions, and Martin Chase through her Martin Chase Prods. ABC Studios, where Martin Chase Prods. has an overall deal, is the studio.
Also executive producing are Kim Swann and Leah Keith who brought Worthy’s story to Hollywood, and Melvoin, while Wilborn serves as co-executive producer and Martin Chase Prods.’ Charles Pugliese as producer. Worthy will serve as a consultant.
In addition to “Conviction,” Swann is developing several projects with Worthy as her producing partner. Keith is adapting her novel “A Rented Life” into a feature. At ABC and ABC Studios, Martin Chase Prods. also has a limited series in development based on the book Catherine The Great by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Massie with a script by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Cristofer (“Gia”).