Mayor In The Dark About Untested Rape Kits

(Memphis) The Memphis City Council voted to accept $500,000 grant from the state to test thousands of rape kits.

Those kits can contain valuable DNA information to help find and convict rapists.

In 2010, WREG first told you how thousands of these kits were going untested in Memphis.

Police at the time called our reports outrageous and sensational.

However, today some city leaders told us the wool may have been pulled over their eyes.

“I’m accountable for what comes out of my office now. I’m accountable for what I say and for the policies I put in place,” said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.

Armstrong won’t point fingers about untested rape kits before 2011, but his message is clear: it’s a problem he inherited and second guessing what happened won’t help.

He also can’t promise testing these 2,200 kits will do any good.

We asked if some of the victims likely won’t receive justice because of the kits have been sitting on evidence shelves for so long.

He said, “I don’t know. It’s too early for me to know. I don’t want to speculate. I certainly pray that’s not the case.”

Armstrong wasn’t director when WREG uncovered rape kits weren’t being tested.

However, Mayor AC Wharton was in office serving his first term.

Wharton said he had no idea there was a backlog and the first he heard about it was 30 days ago when Armstrong told him about it.

In 2010, Wharton believed Godwin, who called WREG’s numbers outrageous and sensational.

He blamed a lack of testing on state budget problems and said all kits were going to be tested.

Now, the number is 2,200 and counting.

That new number is on top of the 1,500 more untested kits, the On Your Side investigators reported about earlier this year.

All of those are from Godwin’s time as director.

The new information we spent years asking about is forcing people like Councilman Kemp Conrad, who questioned our initial report, to change his tune.

“I don’t think there would be one person on this city council that if the administration said we need the money for this we’d do whatever we needed to do, knock through walls to get the money.”

Councilman Conrad tried to approve additional money to test more rape kits but his motion failed.

He wanted to get the money out of the city’s reserve fund.

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