Judge dismisses federal rape kit lawsuit against city of Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A federal lawsuit against the city of Memphis connected to the thousands of rape kits that went untested has been dropped.

It had to do with the 15,000 plus rape kits that went untested.

WREG uncovered the massive backlog in 2010 and we've shared many of the real stories behind that number.

The federal lawsuit had a focus on the constitutional violations made by the city.

It claimed sexual assaults reported by women were given less of a priority than other crimes not involving women.

"The city is going to have to provide an explanation why these women were treated this way. They have to explain that. It's not enough just to say we are going to test the kits now," Robert Spence, the plaintiffs' attorney, said in a 2015 interview.

However, the court found the plaintiffs failed to prove the discrimination in this case, or that the city intentionally treated the women a certain way compared to others in similar situations.

The city of Memphis released the following statement:

"While the court legally found that the City of Memphis is not responsible, we understand our moral obligation to test every kit, investigate every lead, and make sure every rape survivor receives the support they deserve. Testing rape kits is not only important to survivors, but also the citizens of Memphis and our nation. After five years, we no longer a have a backlog and all kits have been sent for testing. Our efforts investigating rape cases have been recognized as a national model. We remain committed to treating rape cases as a high priority — handling them with integrity and sensitivity."

Although the federal lawsuit is dropped, there’s still an active lawsuit for the rape kit backlog against the city in state court that has more to do with negligence than discrimination.

Victims in that case are still hopeful they’ll see justice.

We reached out to the plaintiffs’ attorneys for this story but have not yet heard back.

The next hearing for the state lawsuit against the city is Friday afternoon.

Of course, we will be there and provide you updates.

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