MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Circuit Court judge held a hearing Thursday on whether the city of Memphis can be held liable for a backlog of rape evidence kits.
This is lawsuit was brought on behalf of Janet Doe against the city of Memphis.
A class-action lawsuit was brought by rape victims who claim the city inflicted emotional distress on them by failing to test over 12,000 rape kits. They claim the city didn’t even submit the kits to the TBI for testing. One plaintiff says it took the city ten years to submit her kit.
WREG investigators first told you about the untested rape kits in 2010.
In September this year, city council said more than 300 suspects were found and charged since they started testing the kits. Out of those suspects, 51 of them raped multiple victims. At the time of the update, 141 of them were convicted or pled guilty.
MPD said in September that they were working on 567 active cases. They indicted 442 rapists who were only identified by DNA. Their names are unknown.
The city argues there was no standard for testing rape kits until 2016.
The plaintiffs, represented by attorney Gary Smith, argued Thursday for being able to certify as a class for a class-action lawsuit.
The city’s attorney said all these victims are not the same, and thus cannot be generalized into one lawsuit. The city also argued the lawsuit was filed too late, beyond one year of Doe finding out her kit hadn’t been tested.
The judge didn’t rule and said she could not give a timetable.
Friday, the judge is set to hear two more motions: The plaintiffs will ask the judge to rule the city is liable and to find them guilty, and the defense will try to strike the testimony of Cody Wilkerson, a former MPD officer.
The city’s chief legal officer Jennifer Sink declined comment after the hearing.
We also reached out to MPD to see if they could provide us with more current data, but so far we have not heard back.