Lipscomb's legal files leave few clues as four men file sex repo - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Lipscomb's legal files leave few clues as four men file sex reports against him

(Source: City Hall) (Source: City Hall)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

He resigned from one. The other's board suspended him.

But the legal files of two city agencies revealed no pattern of sexual abuse by Robert Lipscomb, even as four men have filed reports alleging his sexual misconduct.

Tuesday, sources speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed four men have filed official police reports of sexual misconduct against the former director of both the Memphis Housing Authority and Memphis Housing & Community Development.

Sources said the reports do not identify the men. Police have sealed the reports because of their sexual nature.

"It's news to me," said Ricky Wilkins, Lipscomb's attorney. "I have no information on these four men whatsoever. All I have is what's been coming out of city hall."

City officials have said as many as nine men have come forward, alleging Lipscomb sexually abused them as minors. But these four are the first to file official police reports. 

"Given that this is an active investigation and none of these victims have gone on a rampage contacting the media, I think it's prudent that I don't comment at this time," said City of Memphis Chief Administrative Officer Jack Sammons.

Lipscomb resigned from the city's housing and community development agency, and the MHA board suspended him with pay pending the results of a Memphis police probe into the allegations. Police have not charged him in connection with the investigation.

"We have a responsibility to the victims, but we also have a responsibility to the community and to Mr. Lipscomb as well," said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.

The WMC Action News 5 Investigators pulled Lipscomb's legal files in his capacity as director of Memphis Housing & Community Development. There isn't a single file that alleges misconduct against him in the 24 years he served the agency. The files revealed Lipscomb was sued in his role as city housing director just once. In 1994, a landlord sued Lipscomb and the agency for a property demolition. According to the city's response, "...no settlement ensued, and it is noted that the City prevailed, but no documents are available (because of the passage of time)."

Lipscomb's legal files in his capacity as director of the Memphis Housing Authority are equally humdrum, except for one. In 2006, former MHA Field Commander Howard Terry sued Lipscomb and the MHA in federal court. Terry claimed he suffered a hostile work environment because he rejected Lipscomb's sexual advances. A judge dismissed the suit on the grounds that Terry "...provided no basis (of) discrimination because of sex."

Lipscomb has a quarter-century-long reputation as a city leader integral to the revitalization of places and people.

He is the architect of the Bass Pro deal that revitalized the Pyramid. He is credited with razing crime-riddled housing projects and turning them into low-cost housing communities, including the transformation of the infamous Hurt Village into the Uptown community near St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. 

He is also the founder of the non-profit RISE Foundation. Its money-managing program has helped low-income participants, students and seniors acquire $7 million in assets since 1999: their first homes, vehicles, even college tuition. RISE's leadership credits its vision to Lipscomb, although its president Linda Williams declined to be interviewed for this story.

"I've always known Robert to be an honorable, fair gentleman...one who has been extremely instrumental in this city," said Memphis City Councilman Myron Lowery.

"He has a stellar reputation," said Wilkins. "We're doing our own investigation, and there are things that we are uncovering that you guys will hear more about as the days go forward."

Click here for WMC Action News 5's Lipscomb scandal timeline. 

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