Rape victim speaks out about 2,000 untested rape kits - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rape victim speaks out about 2,000 untested rape kits

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Meaghan Ybos is a survivor who was raped at knifepoint in May 2003 in Cordova. Meaghan Ybos is a survivor who was raped at knifepoint in May 2003 in Cordova.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis City Council public safety committee approved the police department's quest for $500,000 worth of grant money to test more than 2,000 rape kits that have gone untested for decades. The full city council will vote on the issue in two weeks.

On Monday, the city, police department, Shelby County District Attorney's office, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced the existence of the untested kits and the plan to seek funding to test them.

Meaghan Ybos is a survivor who was raped at knifepoint in May 2003 in Cordova. She was 16 years old then. Now, 10 years later she is stressing the importance of getting untested rape kits tested.

"I was always looking over my shoulder because I didn't know what he looked like and he clearly knew who I was and what I looked like. So I was scared... all the time," she explained.

MSARC nurses collected a sexual assault kit but Ybos' case went cold.

"And you kind of start feeling ... do I matter as a crime victim?" she said.

In May 2012, police arrested Anthony Alliano, a convicted serial rapist.

Ybos called investigators, only to find out that her rape kit had never been sent to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for testing.

"I just assumed that they had tested it and hadn't found anything, which is the mistake that a lot of victims make," said Ybos.

When finally tested, the DNA identified Alliano as her attacker.

"It's not east to talk about, but it was impossible for me to talk about until they caught him," she said. "It was kind of like a validation for me. Because like, here's his DNA on my thing, so now you know I'm telling the truth."

In March 2013, Alliano pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 178 years in prison.

"It changed everything about my life. It's still like waking up on Christmas morning almost every day when I remember that he's not outside of my window looking at me. And I know that for a fact. It's amazing. It's given me a new lease on life," Ybos added.

Testing rape kits can make a case, but some argue that it is only a start.

"This is about rapists and Memphis responding to rapists in a way that gets them off the street," said Ybos. "I think we need to reserve judgment about how good this news is. Because it really only addresses the tip of the iceberg."

Ybos believes the underlying issue is social attitude toward rape.

"There's a myth that there are lots of women who falsely report rape. It's a flat out myth," she said.

Since MPD Director Toney Armstrong took over at MPD, all rape kits have been sent off to the TBI for testing. But thousands from previous years are sitting on the shelves collecting dust.

"And so yes, it's good news in the sense that it's progress," said Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.

Weirich says some of the kits in the backlog have been sent out over the past several months. She hopes those results will turn into new cases to prosecute.

"We'll just have to look at each one on its strengths, on its merits. DNA testing, whether you get a result or not, it's one piece of evidence that we have to work with," said Weirich.

Ybos' attacker going to prison liberated her. But before reaching the end, she says we must start at the beginning.

"I hope that being in this news story I can impact someone in Memphis who might see this and maybe assume that victims make up stuff like this. And then maybe they'll see me and I can change some people's attitudes," she said.

Prosecutors say the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases is not cut and dry. Plus, they have the option to seek John Doe indictments against DNA profiles.

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