Worthy: Detroit still has a long way to go

By Rory McCarty


Senior Reporter

Detroit still needs to get rid of corruption, said the city lawyer who prosecuted ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a case that gained nationwide attention.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy gave a speech in the Oakland University Kresge Library Thursday, Feb. 5. She talked about her own experiences as a prosecutor, the prosecution of Kilpatrick and what Detroit needs to do to recover following his removal from office.

Kym Worthy spoke of her experience to over a hundred people.

Photo by RORY MCCARTY/The Oakland Post

She rarely referred to Kilpatrick by name, and instead usually referred to him as “the ex-mayor.”

“This was not about some affair,” she said. “This was about ruining the lives of three people who did nothing but do their jobs.”

Worthy also answered criticisms that the ex-mayor’s sentencing was too lenient. She said the early release was because Kilpatrick’s sentence was statutory, and there was nothing that could be done about it. But she passionately expressed her feelings towards the scandal that the mayor’s office started.

“You couldn’t find a more model cop than Gary Brown, whose career they destroyed for their own selfish reasons,” she said.

Worthy said that Detroit has to go a long way to recover, comparing the revival process to the stages of grief.

“The Detroit region, in my opinion, is still in denial,” she said. Worthy said that there is still corruption in Detroit that needs to be rooted out before the region can recover.

Worthy also talked about having to shut down the Detroit Police crime lab, which she said was found to have a 10 percent error rate in firearms cases.

“You can’t even have a half percent error rate in a crime lab,” she said.

“If criminal justice means anything … when we sign our names to a document that charges a person of a crime … we change that person’s life forever,” she said. “It doesn’t feel good when you have to let someone go when you’d rather just push them down an elevator shaft.”

Worthy said that she never had any intention of becoming a prosecutor while in law school at Notre Dame.

“I didn’t want to be someone who locked people of color up,” she said. But in a trial exercise during her last year at Notre Dame, she had to represent the side she thought she would never work on: the prosecution.

“For me to think that all prosecutors do is lock people up was absurd,” she said. She talked about the difficulties she had becoming a prosecutor in Detroit, and gave examples of prejudice in indictments.

“Prosecution was really the last bastion of white male domination,” she said.

She said that before she began working there, Wayne County prosecutors didn’t want to charge white women with child abuse cases.

She said it’s important to have people of all ethnic backgrounds in the prosecutor’s office.