Mayor Blames Rape Victims’ Lawsuit For Tough Time Getting Funding For Rape Kit Testing

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(Memphis) MPD says it has a new process for responding to sex assault cases.

The biggest change is taking victims to the Rape Crisis Center for questioning instead of 201 Poplar.

There's also progress in rape kit testing.

So far, 91 rape kits have been tested from the backlog and 14 cases are indicted.

"We are by no means claiming we have made a dent in the thousands-plus," Mayor A C Wharton said.

But seeing rape cases investigated that sat on the shelves for decades is progress.

"It has been one of the best reform efforts we've been a part of," Sarah Tofte said.

Tofte is with the non-profit Joyful Heart. It’s helping Memphis work through its rape kit backlog and has helped other cities dealing with the same issues.

"The fact that every one of the results that have come back so far have been investigated is really significant and actually quite rare."

But this process of testing more than 12,000 kits is slow and expensive.

The city is sending rape kits to a private lab in Texas, since TBI lacks the manpower to handle the load.

It will take $6.5 million to test all of the kits, and that's money the city doesn’t have.

Last week, state lawmakers voted not to fund the testing.

At the progress report meeting Wednesday, the Memphis mayor didn’t criticize them.

"I’m not going to get into a big political blow out on that," he said.

Mayor Wharton did point the finger at a lawsuit filed by rape victims.

They're suing the city because their kits sat on shelves for years, and in some cases were lost or destroyed.

"We are working with the philanthropic community. And unfortunately, it clouds things when lawsuits are filed,” Wharton said.

He says the lawsuit is making it tough to get funding.

"It really threw me off track. I am almost certain I could have substantial philanthropic money in hand right now," he said.

Wharton says he will keep fighting for funding from the state and the federal government because this issue is not just a Memphis one.

Tofte said other cities she has helped with this process have been aided by the state.

She said she wished that the State of Tennessee would have helped fund the much needed testing to bring justice for victims.


  • Checkmate

    Shelby county has almost 1 million people, it wouldn’t be hard to raise those funds if enough people cared. People could donate unneeded items to a charity auction for the cause. I know I have stuff I don’t need.

    • lovememphis

      Why should the citizens of Shelby County and Memphis help to raise funds to get the kits tested. If our city government didn’t urinate away our money on useless things like buying ball parks, the old Sears building, etc., there would be plenty of money to take care of the kits. Wake up people of Shelby County, we have to learn to say NO.

    • Typical

      Well, said! If they had done their job at the time and used the money they had there would be no need to ask for MORE money to do the job. Shame on you Wharton for blaming the victims. If Memphis had done their job and not misappropriated the funds the victims would not have had to file suit!

  • smith

    No! Mr. Mayor it is a Memphis problem,(All these rapes occurred in Memphis) Its a leadership problem that Memphis has, and you are the problem, you are using this to get more money. from taxpayer.

  • Nonya Bidness

    WOW! 91 tested out or 12,000 …. That is something to brag about! Then to blame the victims ….. that is classy Mr. Mayor. 6.5 Million that the city just doesn’t have….. The tax payers of Memphis should send a note in when it’s property tax time and say that is money I just don’t have so you’ll have to wait 10 or years to get it!

    And to think….. this azzhole will get re-elected!

  • wendy

    First off, I being a victim of one of your own officers I DO NOT appreciate you blaming me for what happened to me. If you people had any morals or ethics or common sense, About being leaders in our community , You would have had them kits tested on site and then you would not have had to figure out were to get this money to get them tested and victims such as myself would not have had to suffer knowing their perpetrator was still at large hurting other innocent victims. But yet you ask for a friggen raise HELL NO. You cant do your job get out Your not LEADERS YOU ARE A MESS WHO CALLS YOURSELF LEADERS AND YOU HAVE THE ACCESS TO OVERRIDE THE LAW THAT YOUR SUPPOSED TO BE IMPOSING BUT YOUR HURTING OTHERS BEHIND IT.
    I am ashamed to live in memphis i am tired of all this and you know what I WILL NOT STOP Untill i have justice here.
    Thank you for making my life a little more difficult everyday and thank you for making me feel a little less of a person when you blame me for ypour mistakes after i was the victim in the first place SORRY NEWS STATION FOR WHAT I AM ABOUT TO SAY PARDON ME …. BUT TO ALL OF YOU WHO SO CALLED LEADERS WHO ARE IMPOSING BLAME TO VICTIMS FUCK YOU

    • wendy

      Yes, Give em a raise and a cookie and say screw the victims civil rights and mental and physical and emotional pain we suffered.

  • Susan Hesson Andersen

    Just another reason to find someone else to be Mayor of this city. I didn’t think he could sink any lower, but to actually BLAME the victims? Right. Brilliant logic. This man needs to GO. I see him in public with many of his female and child relatives. Imagine how quickly one of THEM would get justice if, heaven forbid, he or she was raped?

  • Ricky

    Really? He’s a lawyer and it “threw him off track.” He saw these lawsuits coming….. no surprise there. Pay these women and let this be a lesson. Always do what is right and what is expected. No skimping, dimwits.

  • Rosalyn

    Yes, now that some girls are suing the city because they where “raped” now it’s hard do do what we where doing: nothing. Now we gotta spend our cities money tracking down rapists, do lab work, prosecute rapists, Geez! Why can’t they just stop wearing short skirts?!

    This makes me sick

  • Safer Now

    This is only one of the reasons I left Memphis. A lot of decent, hard working, tax paying citizens have left because of things like this.

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