Kym Worthy never thought in law school that she would wind up a prosecutor. Now she’s behind
one of the most prominent criminal cases against public officials in the country.
Worthy, the top prosecutor in Wayne County, Mich., co-leads the Flint water crisis case with Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud.
In January, they rolled out a slate of charges against nine people, including accusing former Gov. Rick Snyder (R) of willful neglect of duty and charging with involuntary manslaughter both Nicolas Lyon, the former director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Eden Wells, former Michigan chief medical executive.
The case stems from a 2014 decision that resulted in the city changing its water supply to the Flint River. The corrosive river water, which wasn’t adequately treated, caused lead from pipes to leach into the city’s drinking water.
The switch has also been linked to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 12 people.
And a study reported that following the move, the number of area children with elevated lead levels in their blood approximately doubled. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a doctor whose research drew attention to the issue, has said that all of the city’s nearly 9,000 kids under age 6 should be considered exposed to lead, which can damage children’s brains and nervous systems.
In a recent interview, Worthy told The Hill that she is overseeing and advising on the case, which Molly Kettler, a deputy chief prosecutor, has worked on full-time for 18 months.
Worthy declined to discuss the prosecution’s current strategy or say if plea deals could be involved, saying, “We are still in the initial phases, we are fielding many, many motions … and just dealing with how this case can be put together.”
“We don’t try our cases in the court of public opinion, that jeopardizes cases. We also don’t want to jeopardize any potential jury pool,” she said.
In 2019, Worthy and Hammoud took over the case from previous prosecutors, who they said didn’t pursue all the available evidence.
“There was a lot of evidence that had not been uncovered or turned over … millions and millions of pages of documents,” Worthy said. “We had to start from scratch and do it all over again.”
Others charged in the probe include Snyder aides Richard Baird and Jarrod Agen, former Flint emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Early Childhood Health section manager Nancy Peeler and former Flint Public Works Director Howard Croft.
All nine have pleaded not guilty.
Snyder appointed the city’s emergency financial managers, whose decisions ultimately resulted in the switch. He’s denied previous accusations that he was warned about the risks but didn’t act until it became public.
In the press conference announcing the other charges, Hammoud said Wells and Lyon were charged for failures including grossly negligent performance of legal duties, and she…
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