Staff shortage delays assistance for victims at rape crisis center - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Staff shortage delays assistance for victims at rape crisis center

By Janice Broach - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - A 14-year-old rape victim was told there would be a two-week wait before being tested because of a staff shortage at the Memphis Rape Crisis Center.

Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons says he first noticed the problem at the rape crisis center in February when several nurses were terminated after the City of Memphis enforced its residency requirement.

The shortage of nurses meant examinations of rape victims were delayed.

"We were in a situation where investigations would not be conducted promptly," said Gibbons. "And as a result, we would not be in a position to prosecute a case."

In February, Gibbons sent a letter to the Public Services and Neighborhoods director. Gibbons wrote that the "most qualified nurses have been terminated".

"I have not heard from them," he said.

Then on Tuesday, Horn Lake had a statutory rape victim.

"It was a 20-year-old male driver, ended up being a 14-year-old female in the car," said Lt. Scott Evans with the Horn Lake Police Dept.

Evans says his detective called the Memphis Rape Crisis Center, which serves three states.

"We were told they'd be open at eight in the morning...to come back at eight that morning," Evans said. "They called at eight that morning. They were advised the closest appointment would be May 8th."

Evans said any DNA evidence would be gone by then.

There was also delay in a case in Bartlett.

Ken Moody, the city director who oversees the Memphis Sexual Assault and Resource Center, wrote in a release: "It is our sincere desire to provide all victims with the most professional and compassionate care during a very traumatic time. MSARC apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused."
    
Gibbons says the rape crisis center has been without an administrator for a year, and that makes it more difficult to hire qualified nurses.

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