New nurses staff city's troubled rape crisis center - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New nurses staff city's troubled rape crisis center

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - Rape victims were recently turned away from the city's rape crisis center, which was understaffed nearly half of the time in April.

The City of Memphis came under fire when a 14-year-old rape victim could not get processed for more than a day. The incident happened two months after the D.A. sent the city a cautionary letter about the center's staffing situation.

"The closer in time to the assault that a victim is examined, the better chance we have of locating DNA-bearing evidence," said Bobby Carter, lead prosecutor for Shelby County's Child Sex Abuse Unit.

He says the breakdown at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center could potentially put rapists back on the streets.

After Memphis City Council created new residency requirements, the city was forced to terminate employees who reside outside Memphis city limits.
And though MSARC nurses were given the opportunity to come back with the understanding they'd have a year to move to Memphis, not all of them took took it.
Carter says these nurses, who have special evidence-gathering training, are hard to find. "They're available 24 hours. They're called in all hours of the night to deal with the most difficult situations you can imagine."

But there is some good news: the city recently hired six new nurses to staff the center.
MSARC has been without a director for a year, but city officials said a director is scheduled to begin work on May 25.

May data shows understaffing is now down to 23 percent.
The city says the goal is to have the rape crisis center fully-staffed as soon as possible.

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