City council receives rape kit backlog update after lengthy delay

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For the first time in almost a year, the Memphis City Council finally received an update on the sexual assault kit backlog after WREG started asking questions.

WREG investigator Jessica Gertler has been pressing for answers on why they stopped, and she now learned the work is far from over.

While the kits have now been tested, the work now shifts to investigators and prosecutors.

Police told the council Tuesday that out of the nearly 13,000 kits, they’ve initiated more than 5,300 investigations, 464 cases are active, and there are 550 requests for indictments.

WREG exposed the massive backlog in 2010. The kits sat on shelves collecting dust for years, if not decades.

A lot of the kits were linked to rapists who were never caught because the kits weren’t tested, so they continued to commit violent attacks.

Police mentioned one case about a man they caught after testing the kits. They linked him to seven rapes, and he will now spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Victim advocates also addressed the council.

“In calendar year of 2019, we served 239 victims,” one victim advocate said. “We provided almost 2,000 unique services for those victims. We work hand-in-hand with law enforcement. We go out to victim’s homes, to workplaces to notify them about case updates, then we stick with them throughout the process.”

There are still thousands of kits that have been to the lab but are waiting for investigators to take a look the results.

Memphis Police were adamant they’ve got one of the best units trying to tackle it all. They told the council they believe they have enough resources.

The next update will be in the next couple of months.

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