$10M lawsuit filed against city for untested rape kits

$10M lawsuit filed against city for untested rape kits

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Rape victims are in fear they may never see justice because of the huge backlog of rape kits that remain untested. That huge backlog of rape investigations could land the City of Memphis in court.

"Nobody helped me," one rape victim said.

Her tears are tears of pain. She said she will never forget what happened, and she's afraid she will never see justice.

The woman said she was raped twice over the past 30 or so years. One attack was even at knife point.

"It's like they didn't care about us. Nobody contacted me," the woman said.

She's like thousands of other women whose rape kits sat on shelves untested for years. Now, she's part of a class action lawsuit for $10 million dollars against the City of Memphis and Shelby County. It's for what she refers to as negligence.

"They should have done their job," she said.

Ahead of a possible court hearing next month, an attorney said the lawsuit is for the pain the victims suffered after their attacks. The pain of not seeing justice.

"We're suing for the insult to the injury," attorney Daniel Lofton said.

Lofton is asking for full transparency regarding what happened.

"There were no set rules for the handling of rape kits for decades," he said.

He also said he has more than a dozen clients who may never see justice since the statute of limitations has expired on their cases.

"They have not adequately addressed the seriousness of the problem as far as the victims who cannot get justice," Lofton said.

But, there has been progress. A sexual assault task force, which meets twice a month, was formed in 2013. Now, more than half of the untested rape kits have been sent off to labs.

There have also been more than 200 indictments handed down, even though indictments don't always result in convictions.

An accused serial rapist was acquitted in one of his court cases last week.

"None of us undo what wasn't done before, but we're doing everything we can to make value of the material that we do have," Deborah Club with the sex assault task force said.

If you are a victim and want to check on the status of your case, call the MPD hotline at 901-636-3438.

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