(Memphis) Rape victims called Mayor A C Wharton insensitive after comments made Wednesday night at a community meeting.
The mayor mentioned getting donations to help pay for rape kit testing has been difficult, and blamed a lawsuit filed by rape victims.
Thursday, the mayor apologized if there was a misunderstanding with his comments.
“If someone misunderstood that I apologize to that. My approach has been victim-centered,” Wharton said.
But rape victim Meaghan Ybos says there was no misunderstanding.
“I thought that it was very misplaced for the mayor to say he was not going to point fingers and then to point victims at the rape victims who have had to file suit in civil court to assert their civil rights,” she said.
Wednesday night, Wharton said the lawsuit filed by rape victims was making it difficult to secure funding from philanthropic organizations.
“Unfortunately it clouds things when lawsuits are filed,” Wharton said Wednesday night.
“Madison (Graves) said having my attacker on the loose for almost a decade clouded my ability to live a normal life,” Ybos said.
Frustrated the city ignored their rape kits, Ybos and two others sued the city.
“Memphis should be paying for this with their own money not looking for philanthropic donations and then blaming rape victims for asserting their rights and clouding things,” she said.
Reporter to Wharton: “They believe those comments were insensitive. Could you react to that?
Wharton: “No. No. No. It’s a reality. It has nothing to do with the victims themselves, they have the right to sue.”
The mayor said he perhaps gave too much information.
“Folks have heard me say I was trying to get some philanthropic funds and it does make it a little bit difficult until we can assure them that the money they give us to clean up the kits won’t be used to hire lawyers and things like that, and we are working to explain that,” he said.
He does apologize if that explanation was offensive.
“All I want to do is keep pushing the testing off those kits. That’s all I’m centered on and I regret any misunderstanding on that,” Wharton said.
“I’m happy that he’s apologized for the insensitivity that people have perceived. I would hope he keeps this in mind in the future,” Ybos said.