DA Dunavant voices his concern about rape center crisis - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

DA Dunavant voices his concern about rape center crisis

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COVINGTON, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis and Shelby County residents aren't the only ones concerned about the recent issues at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center, or MSARC.  The recent staffing shortage there affects the entire Mid-South. 

"We rely upon this and we don't have anything like this in my district that would serve victims in this way and service law enforcement and prosecution so its vital its crucial," said Mike Dunavant, District Attorney for the 25th Judicial District of Tennessee. 

Dunavant is the lead prosecutor for five counties around Memphis - Lauderdale, Tipton, Fayette, Hardeman, and McNairy.  Dunavant says these five counties depend on Memphis' rape crisis center for treatment of rape victims in rural West Tennessee.

But a recent staffing shortage there has the prosecutor very worried.

"If we don't timely collect and preserve DNA evidence and if we don't have the MSARC center to do that with then we're losing cases and cases are going unsolved," Dunavant said.

In a letter addressed to the Memphis and Shelby County mayors, Dunavant states that the center is not just for the city and county.

"My five counties suffer because of there's a delay, we may lose evidence, we may not be able to properly treat and assess victims," Dunavant said.

Dunavant suggests that state legislatures and local county commissions look at independent funding mechanisms in an effort to solve the staffing shortage.

"If we really are about public safety in whatever capacity we are then we need to put our money where our mouth is," he said.

Dunavant believes filling the shortage should be a priority for everyone involved.

"If we neglect this duty and this responsibility there are victims who will continue to be victimized, and there are violent rapists who will never be brought to justice," he said.

And justice is exactly what this District Attorney doesn't want to compromise.  Dunavant hasn't gotten a response from either Mayor Herenton or Mayor Wharton regarding his concerns.  

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