Rape kit lawsuit moves from federal to state court

Rape kit lawsuit moves from federal to state court
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5 file)
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5 file)

(WMC) – Three women at the center of a lawsuit over untested rape kits are moving their case from federal to circuit court.

The women say the city and county's negligence allowed a serial rapist to roam free for years. One of the plaintiffs was 12 years old when she was raped.

The three women dismissed their initial federal class action lawsuit and filed a new lawsuit in circuit court. The plaintiffs' attorney, Daniel Lofton, says circuit court is more appropriate.

"The old suit focused on constitutional claims. The new suit focuses on the emotional damage the victims have suffered," Lofton explained.

The lawsuit says the victims of convicted serial rapist Anthony Alliano gave evidence to investigators, but their rape kits sat on a shelf and went untested, along with 12,000 other kits.

The women allege the city and county's failure to test the kits allowed Alliano to perpetuate his crime more than 100 times; his victims included young girls.

"Priceless, irreplaceable evidence just kind of laid to waste," added Lofton.

In 2004, a security guard saw Alliano force a 16-year-old girl into a Motel 6 room.

Officers found Alliano standing over the apparently drugged girl with evidence that a sex act occurred, but prosecutors dismissed the case.

The lawsuit points out that Alliano was not captured from DNA evidence, but for using the credit card of one of the plaintiffs. The plaintiff is the wife of a man who was, at the time, a Memphis police officer.

"There are questions that need to be answered. There's accountability. There's a big accountability factor in doing this," said Lofton.

When asked about the lawsuit, Shelby County government said, "The county doesn't discuss details of pending lawsuits."

City of Memphis said, "They [the plaintiffs] accurately realized they had no viable federal claims. The city will be seeking dismissal of the State claims."

The three counts call for the maximum available amount for negligence, gross negligence and the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liabilities Act.

The women would walk away with a total of $700,000 combined.

For the latest sexual assault kit numbers, click here. To read the new lawsuit, click here.

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