Memphis City Officials Forgoing Transparency For Lawsuit

(Memphis) The same city that ignored more than 12,000 rape kits while the rapist roamed free is now telling the victims to trust them to make it right.

Even council members who were once demanding answers are now agreeing to closed-door meetings to ask the administration questions, while victims hope they aren’t betrayed again.

The cover-up goes back almost four years.

News Channel 3 was the first to expose that thousands of rape kits, containing crucial rape evidence, were just sitting on shelves collecting dust.

After our first story in 2010, former MPD Director Larry Godwin sent a letter to News Channel 3 saying our report on the abuse was misleading and irresponsible.

Now that the city has admitted to the untested rape kits, we tried to talk with Godwin, but he didn’t return my call.

Rape victims whose kits haven’t been tested, some kits more than 30 years old, will continue getting the same silence from Mayor A C Wharton’s office and Memphis police.

“How we got to where we are is the subject of the lawsuit. That we can’t talk about, but how we deal with the problem moving forward we absolutely can,” said Memphis CAO George Little.

Kemp Conrad was one of the first council members to demand the administration give them monthly status updates on those rape kits from the administration and the police department, but now he says he respects their decision to answer council members’ questions behind closed doors while that lawsuit is pending.

“With a federal lawsuit and things, unfortunately now we can’t be as transparent as we would like to be,” said Conrad.

City officials want rape victims to trust them to take care of the issue in secret.

“I can’t tell you if they are going to be satisfied or not. I absolutely think there has been a breach of trust on this issue. Categorically, how could there not be? All I can do moving forward is beware of the issues and what the solutions are,” said Conrad.

So far, more than 2,000 of the 12,000 untested kits dating back to the 1980s have been tested, but now the city is asking the state to designate $2 million to test more.

Little made that request in Nashville last week.

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