MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thousands of victims are one step closer to a ruling in a lawsuit against the City of Memphis over untested rape kits. It’s a story WREG has been following for nearly a decade.
Celia Reynolds is one of the thousands of rape victims who never got closure from Memphis Police or in court.
“My case was ’83, 1983,” Reynolds said. “I been dealing with this for 39 years, and I haven’t gotten no result.”
Now she’s here watching a lawsuit against the city. Attorneys representing the victims argue the city is liable for 12,000 rape kits they didn’t test between 1985 and 2014.
“They would report to police, and they would simply do a minimum amount of paperwork, have them submit to the rape kit, not send it in for testing, and not do any investigation,” attorney Gary Smith said.
Attorneys representing Memphis say DNA technology didn’t make it plausible to test every kit until 2002 when they started to have access to a DNA database through the FBI.
“It is false, painfully false, that there were 12,000 untested sexual assault kits,” a city attorney said.
They also say the victims should not be able to file a class action lawsuit because each individual case is different.
“They don’t have to be identical, but the basic issue has to be typical,” Smith said. “And what is in common with all these cases is that for thousands of times through the years instead of doing their job, for instance, they might tell them, ‘We’ve submitted your kit for testing’ when in fact they had not.”
For Reynolds, she says after all this time she just wants justice, though she admits she doesn’t know anymore what that looks like.
“Nothing has been told to me since 1983 I been dealing with this” Reynolds said. “I’m just tired. I’m tired.”
Everyone will be back in court Friday for more motions, but unfortunately, these victims are going to have to wait a little longer. The judge wouldn’t say how long it may take for her to make a ruling.