A rape victim has filed a proposed class action accusing Memphis, Tenn. of failing to process 15,000 so-called rape kits which contain bodily fluids and other evidence of sexual assault.
The victim, who’s identified only as Jane Doe, claims her own sexual assault evidence kit went untested for 13 years. She’s suing on behalf of herself and other Memphis rape victims who are in similar situations, claiming the city violated their right to due process by failing to test the kits.
Her lawsuit claims the city of Memphis had a policy of failing to test sexual evidence kits, which delayed the arrests of rapists and made the city a more dangerous place. The lawsuit said the city’s “deliberate indifference, willful and wanton conduct created a danger of an increased risk of harm of sexual abuse.”
While it seems unthinkable that a city would delay testing a sexual assault kit, backlogs of rape kits are not unheard of in America.
In June 2012 the National Institute of Justice published a report finding that “backlogged and untested sexual assault kits (SAKS) are a major problem facing forensic crime laboratories and law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.” That report came amid growing public concern after the number of untested kits at the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reached 10,985 in 2008, according to the National Institute of Justice.
The lawsuit against the city of Memphis alleges that even more rape kits there went untested. The Tennessee city has a relatively high number of rapes per 100,000 residents — 63 compared to a national average of 26.9.
We reached out to a representative for Memphis for comment on the rape lawsuit and will update this post if we hear back.
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