Officials surprised, happy at MSARC announcement - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Officials surprised, happy at MSARC announcement

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After months of investigation and outrage into mismanagement at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center, the center is now in new hands.

Monday, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton said the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department would oversee MSARC, to the surprise of some. 

Memphis City Council member Jim Strickland did not expect the city and county mayors to announce a joint partnership overseeing the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center.

"I was a little bit surprised, but I'm very happy," he said Tuesday.

The announcement came after two 14-year-old rape victims were turned away from the center because of understaffing, as well as complaints Public Service Director Ken Moody and Deputy Director Yalanda McFadgen mismanaged the program.

"We weren't really trying to switch it over to the county solely for the management problems at the center," Strickland said. "We were more concerned that it was a regional service, therefore it ought to be supported by a regional tax base."

Shelby county Commissioner Sydney Chism says the victims got lost in the controversy.

"Germantown, East Memphis, West Memphis, North Memphis, whatever part of town, we need to provide those services," Chism said.

He hopes the joint effort will allow the center to flourish.

"Both mayors have some input into decision-making in that portion of our Health Department, even though the county has control, and so I think it's a good mix," Chism said.

But they're still ironing out how the center will operate.

"I'm not sure they have any changes in the administration part of it," Chism said. "I think the city will probably appoint somebody, and then the county will probably appoint somebody to make sure it runs smoothly."

LeBonheur Children's Medical Center will continue it's new program caring for underage sex assault victims. The city-county partnership for adult sex assaults begins July 1, but preparations have already begun.

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