LeBonheur takes over MSARC's child cases - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

LeBonheur takes over MSARC's child cases

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

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Last month, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton announced a partnership with LeBonheur Children's Medical Center to take on the child sex assault cases so MSARC can dedicate its time to adult cases.

Monday, that partnership began, as questions remain unanswered.

"This is a great day for our community," Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons said as he announced LeBonheur Children's Medical Center will now conduct all area child sex assault exams.

"This is the right thing to do for us and it's the right thing to do for these kids," he added.

The partnership comes after Gibbons cautioned the city of Memphis to fix the troubled MSARC program back in February.

"I have every anticipation that it's going to work," Gibbons said.

City Attorney Elbert Jefferson said MSARC has made huge strides after the center turned away teen rape victims when nearly half of its 96 shifts were unstaffed.
"We believe we have brought aboard sufficient staff to cover those 96 shifts," he said.

Jefferson said MSARC was caught in the perfect storm, between tax cuts and budget cuts.

"If we had all the dollars we needed, then we may have seen a different result," he said.

Monday, we received a first look inside the Child Advocacy Center where LeBonheur will conduct exams during normal business hours.  After hours, cases will go to LeBonheur.  LeBonheur will dedicate one medical director, six nurses, four social workers, a spiritual counselor and a host of child life specialists.

"All of them are people with pediatric experience that we knew in the community," said LeBonheur President and CEO Meri Armour

As for MSARC, Jefferson says oversight remains under Public Services Director Ken Moody, but with a new safeguard.

"Before anything is signed off, we have executive review and the like from the day-to-day administrative standpoint," he said.

And what of claims the city improperly allocated MSARC funds?

"All I can say is that's an ongoing investigation," Gibbons said.

Gibbons said he would have welcomed LeBonheur taking over the child sex assault cases, whether or not there was a problem at MSARC.

Also Monday, Shelby County Commissioners were supposed to consider taking MSARC from the city. The resolution was deferred two weeks.

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