Federal lawsuit filed against city over rape kit backlog - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Federal lawsuit filed against city over rape kit backlog

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Advocates for women are outraged after the Memphis City Council announced it could not talk about the rape backlog Tuesday.

A federal lawsuit against the city is drawing attention to the backlog of more than 12,000 rape kits. Now as a result of the lawsuit, the city says there can no longer be public discussions about the backlog.

Deborah Clubb of the Memphis Area Women's Council is dismayed the city will no longer have public discussions about the issue.

"They simply were not having the discussion," said Clubb. "Everything the police and city and the rest of us are trying to do now bringing resources to bear, bring action to lab testing, prosecution, and jailing of rapists now is very much needed to be talked about."

The city's chief administrative officer explained why certain aspects of the backlog issue are now off limits.

"There is litigation pending. We don't want to get into matters that will be subject to that litigation," said Memphis CAO George Little.

Clubb says the issue is ultra sensitive.

"Survivors are out there not knowing what has happened. Many people are walking around not sure if they should ever report a sexual assault," she said.

"Our public discussions are really going to focus on what we've been doing since August of 2013 and moving forward," explained Little, who says the city will meet with advocates starting Wednesday to talk about how to help rape survivors now reliving the darkest moment in their lives.

The city says more than 2,000 kits were sent to the lab, only half had DNA. The administration will seek more money from the city and state to test the roughly 10,000 remaining kits.

The Joyful Heart Foundation, a national non-profit organization, created an interactive map to display where the biggest rape kit backlogs exist in the United States. Click here to see the map.

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