Crime

Memphis Sued For Throwing Away 15K Untested Rape Kits

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A class action suit has been filed against the city of Memphis for failing to submit more than 15,000 rape kits for testing.

An unidentified woman, who was the victim of rape and is a resident of Memphis, claims the city collected the kits, allowed many to spoil, and threw them away.

"The City of Memphis failed to submit over 15,000 such sexual assault kits for further testing and caused the spoliation of the sexual assault kits, all of which resulted in damages to the plaintiff and the putative class, which constitutes a violation of the equal protection clauses of the Tennessee and United States Constitutions,” the complaint says.

"Over fifteen thousand (15,000) Sexual Assault Evidence Kits went untested over a period of several decades,” it says.

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The woman says she waited 13 years for her rape kit to be tested and at that point the evidence had “spoiled.”

“Plaintiff and the putative class members are female individuals who reported sexual assaults to third parties, had bodily fluid samples removed from their bodies and placed within sexual assault evidence kits, and whose sexual assault kits were subsequently transported to the Memphis Police Department for testing, evidentiary and custodial purposes," the complaint states.

The complaint says the throwing away of rape kits "was ratified by multiple policymakers within the City of Memphis Police Department."

"Unknown to plaintiff Doe, the City of Memphis had a policy, practice and/or custom of discarding sexual assault evidence kits,” it says. “Unknown to Plaintiff Doe, the City of Memphis had a policy, practice and/or custom of failing to submit sexual assault evidence kits for testing.”

The woman says this is evidence that Memphis has a history of “discriminating against females.” She claims the "defendant's conduct was motivated by gender."

Congress estimated in 2010 that there are as many as 180,000 untested rape kits in the U.S.

The kits include the collection of fibers, swabs, hair, blood and clothing samples from the victim and has been described as an invasive and humiliating experience for victims.

Sources: Newser, Courthouse News Service