Memphis Sent Only 120 Rape Kits When State Offered Free Testing In 2003

(Memphis) As WREG leads the way on the untested rape kit story, now this: you’re being asked to pay millions for what we found could have been done for free.

So far, the city has agreed to pay a $1 million down payment on the $6 million it will cost to test the huge backlog.

But now, new documents show the state could have tested most, if not all, for free, but Memphis chose to turn over only a fraction of the thousands of kits gathering dust.

Memphis City Council members held little back, frustrated that evidence in more than 12,000 rape cases was left on shelves for years.

Councilman Myron Lowery said, “I think the police department failed the citizens of this city ten years ago, and I’d like to know why.”

Now the On Your Side investigators have uncovered more startling evidence.

In 2003, TBI got a grant for more than $3 million. It asked Memphis and other cities to send in any rape kits where there was no suspect, for free testing.

But Memphis only sent 120 kits, while thousands sat untouched.

Councilwoman Wanda Halbert said, “You seem to be more successful with getting answers than members of the council.”

Halbert admitted she ignored letters from WREG, in which we exposed the rape kit problem, four years ago. She says administrators told her we were wrong, but now she say the city should have acted then.

“The mayor says, ‘Lets not point fingers and place blame,’ but when you’re asking citizens to pay millions for a process, that should have been paid for by the state.”

Tuesday, former Memphis judge turned TV personality Joe Brown told elected officials to get their act together.

He’s running for DA and says all city leaders are vulnerable unless they find out who did this and hold them accountable.”It’s disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful,” he said. “It’s been going on a while. Hell, I was still on the bench when some of these rape kits were assembled.”

Mayor A C Wharton is hoping the state legislature might come up with some of the $5 million still needed to test the backlog of kits.

He’s also asked former U.S. attorney Veronica Coleman-Davis to investigate which people were behind the decades-long decision not to test the kits.

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