Old Rape Kits Lead to Justice for LGBTQ Victims

BY BTL STAFF

Two rape victims will get justice more than five years after crimes against them were committed.

A 46-year-old Port Huron man, Anthony Thornton, was found guilty by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans on June 2 of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and one count of unlawful imprisonment.

Thornton was arrested in January and charged with two rapes, according to a Fair Michigan press release.

On April 20, 2010, Thornton met his first victim, a transgender man, at the Coalition on Temporary Shelter homeless shelter in Detroit. The victim, who was 19 at the time, accompanied Thornton and two other men to an abandoned house to drink and smoke. When the victim attempted to leave, Thornton and the other men held him down and took turns raping him.

The victim had a rape kit collected, but the kit was not processed until March 20, 2015.

The DNA was a match to Thornton, according to an official report.

On March 8, 2011, Thornton's second victim, a lesbian, was invited to a home in Detroit by a friend. When the victim arrived, the friend was not there but Thornton was. Thornton overpowered the victim and raped her. Thornton only stopped his attack when he heard someone at the door. The victim was able to escape through a back window and immediately reported the crime.

That rape kit was processed recently and the DNA matched to Thornton, according to an official report. The victim has positively identified Thornton as her alleged attacker.

"Only one case was tried, but the second victim testified as "other act" evidence to rebut the defendant's defense of consent," said Fair Michigan Justice Project Special Prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz. "The defendant's DNA was identified in the rape kit that was done for 2010. The victim did not know the offenders, so it was a DNA driven case against Thornton."

The victim's rape kits are one of thousands dating back to 2009 that were never tested. There has been an ongoing effort to raise money needed to process each kit, investigate the cases and bring the perpetrators to justice.

First-degree criminal sexual conduct is a felony punishable by up to life in prison. Unlawful imprisonment is also a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Sentencing for Thornton is June 16. Powell Horowitz said the other case will be scheduled for trial after that.

For more information about the Fair Michigan, visit http://www.fairmichigan.org.
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