“Destroyed” uncovered that law enforcement agencies nationwide destroyed hundreds of rape kits before the statutes of limitations expired or when there was no time limit to prosecute. The goal of the animation was to share the first-person experience of victims whose chance at justice was taken because their kits were intentionally discarded.

Visualizing the deeply personal and harrowing experience of the exam itself, which can re-traumatize the victim, as well as the anguish of justice being denied thereafter, required great care. The challenge of telling the story in an unflinching way, being intimate and authentic without sensationalism or obliqueness, was achieved with careful and purposeful use of lighting, contrast, perspective, and texture. The movement and harshness of the light over tightly framed closeups of the victim’s body emphasizes a sense of vulnerability and time dilation. Sharp brush strokes add additional emotional tension hiding and revealing elements, playing between positive and negative space. Intertwining 2D, 3D, and cel animation techniques, a balance was created between the editorial needs of the story and the expressiveness needed to evoke the tone, intensity of the ordeal.

Even before the story was published, CNN’s reporting prompted change. Several police departments stopped destroying rape kits, launched internal reviews and revised their investigative practices. After publication, outraged politicians, victim advocates and criminal justice professionals clamored for change. A Georgia lawmaker drafted legislation to outlaw rape kit destruction and the governor of New York dispatched state police to check on a police department that destroyed kits. Washington state’s attorney general said he would direct every agency in his state to make sure kits were not being improperly destroyed. Two police chiefs publicly apologized and made immediate changes in the way their departments investigate sex crimes.

In a #MeToo era with stories focused on those accused of sexual assault, CNN turned the spotlight on those expected to solve reported sex crimes. Through purposeful creative decisions and execution, “Destroyed” effectively leveraged powerful visual storytelling to create real world change.


Executive Creative Director: Jonathan Reyes
Art Directors: Padraic Driscoll, Curtis Brown, Michael Pisano
Lead Designer: Melody Shih
Additional Animators: Sandy Pan, Shane Csontos-Popko, Justin Weiss

Made with ♥ in NYC