Rape kit testing lawsuit back in court, victims want accountability

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It's back to court for a story that has made headlines around the country.

Lawyers for rape victims continue their fight, asserting Memphis and Shelby County played a role in thousands of rape kits sitting untested, allowing thousands of rape suspects to go free.

"We are assuming the city was negligent in that it caused emotional distress," said Attorney Daniel Lofton, who represents the rape victims filing suit.

In court Tuesday, attorneys again laid out their case.

Shelby County insists it should not be a part of the suit since it had no part in the injuries victims said they suffered from the publicity surrounding the backlog of kits.

The county said the two people named in the suit, former Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong and Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, are not county employees.

"The county has to submit, give the clearance for the rape kit to be prosecuted. That puts the county's hand on every single rape kit that the city had in its possession period," Lofton said.

The City of Memphis also wants out of the suit saying when Weirich and Armstrong announced the rape kit backlog it was in the public interest, part of their first-amendment right, and there are no specifics on how it did harm.

"It's an absolute insult for the city to sit here and act as though these rape victims weren't traumatized," Lofton said.

It may be a while before either side gets what it wants. Judge Higgins is reviewing the motions and will rule later. Rape victims who were in court remain undeterred.

"I just think what we saw in court today was an indication of the county's responsibility," said rape victim Meaghan Ybos, who was recently dropped from the lawsuit.

Lawyers also said the City of Memphis still refuses to turn over its specific policy on how rape kits are handled.

Attorneys for the city and county did not comment after the hearing.

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