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Rape kit evidence from 2010 leads to charges against Southwest Michigan township supervisor

Connecticut State Division of Criminal Justice
A sexual assault evidence collection kit

The Michigan Attorney General’s office has charged a St. Joseph County township supervisor with four counts of criminal sexual conduct.

Prosecutors say DNA evidence from a sexual assault evidence kit identified Fabius Township Supervisor Kenneth Linn. He’s accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a 2010 golf outing in Kalamazoo County. Linn allegedly “assaulted the victim while she was physically helpless due to extreme intoxication and unable to give consent,” according to a press release from the Michigan Attorney General’s office. It added that the woman suffered physical injuries.

The victim underwent a sexual assault kit examination the day after the assault, but the evidence bounced around untested for over a decade. It was “not submitted to the Michigan State Police Forensics Lab until December 2014,” and then “was ultimately returned to the Portage Police Department untested in late January of 2015,” according to the release.

In 2016, as part of the state-wide Sexual Assault Kit testing initiative, the Portage Police Department submitted it to a Salt Lake City lab for analysis. For reasons that are currently unclear, it was then resubmitted to the MSP Forensics Lab, which matched the results to Linn.

Kalamazoo County prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said it’s unclear why this particular rape kit was neglected for so long. “We've found any number of reasons why these cases weren't tested then,” Getting said. “Some better than others, but none good enough.”

Michigan’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative was established in 2016 to investigate and prosecute sexual assaults related to previously untested sexual assault evidence kits. It provides funding and personnel to establish units within a few Michigan county prosecutors’ offices, including Kalamazoo County’s.

“It's a cooperative effort between the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office and the Attorney General's office to pursue these untested rape kit cases,” Getting said. Special Assistant Attorney General Erin House will prosecute the case against Linn. Getting said the victim is cooperating with prosecutors.

“Too many victims of sexual assault have waited years to see charges filed in their cases,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. “I am proud to partner with the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor on this important work, and I am committed to see justice delivered for these victims.”

Linn pled not guilty at arraignment, and is now free on bond. Reached by phone, Linn’s lawyer John McDonough said that his client maintains his innocence, and “is looking forward to the evidence being presented in court.” Further hearings in Kalamazoo District Court are scheduled for early November.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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