Victims work toward class action suit against Memphis over rape kit backlog

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - There are even more delays of justice for Mid-South rape survivors, who are suing the City of Memphis over thousands of rape kits that went untested for years.

Attorney Daniel Lofton is still working to get the case certified as a class action lawsuit.

On Thursday, a judge told him to re-file that motion and come back next month.

Attorneys for the City of Memphis stayed quiet outside the courtroom during the legal battle.

The lawsuit accuses the city of neglect in failing to test thousands of rape kits over the past 30 years.

"This case has been stalemated but is on the brink of just absolute success. And it's through the courage and moral conviction of Cody Wilkerson," Lofton said.

Retired police lieutenant Cody Wilkerson testified last November in a deposition about the widespread neglect and incompetence in sex crimes investigations.

"A class action is the only way for this case to be handled. The city will say anything they can. They will do anything they can to prevent our success," Lofton said.

Victims like Valencia Woodin, who comes to every hearing, said the drawn out saga re-opens emotional wounds.

"To me as a victim, it takes a lot of courage because we have to relive the same wounds, the same scars, the same dreams, nightmares," she said.

Five years after her sexual assault, she still doesn't know if her attacker was caught.

Lofton, who represents Woodin and the other victims, said he will be back in court June 1, fighting to keep this case alive and certify it as a class action.

"The city has been trying to have the case dismissed since day one. Every day since day one it has failed in getting that dismissal," Lofton said.

"When they are saying dismissal, it's scary because you don't want to always walk around victimized. That's what it feels like," Woodin said.

Next up in the depositions are two top brass with the department, Deputy Chief Don Crowe and MPD Deputy Director Mike Ryall.

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