More than a dozen women join untested rape kits lawsuit

Published: Apr. 6, 2015 at 7:37 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2015 at 10:29 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The list of women suing the City of Memphis over untested rape kits is growing.

Three women started a class action lawsuit against the government for failing to test rape kits, which they say allowed their rapists to continue operating freely.

Now, the WMC Action News 5 Investigators have learned more than two dozen women are part of the lawsuit.

"We have approximately 25 plaintiffs right now, and we're adding more," plaintiffs' attorney Daniel Lofton told WMC Action News 5.

Lofton says the failure to test the rape kits was bad enough.

Now, he says the city is refusing to cooperate by withholding requested documents and delaying closure once again for his clients.

A lawsuit filed in August 2014 requested 29 sets of documents. Court documents show the City of Memphis called the request "overly broad and unduly burdensome."

The city went on to say that the information Lofton requested would not yield any admissible evidence.

Lofton says in November, he filed another request for just one piece of evidence: the city's rape kits testing policies and procedures.

Lofton says the city has not responded up to now.

"They don't tell us what was the rule, what was the standard, how did you use rape kit evidence?" Lofton said.

Lofton says the basis of their defense is that they followed the rules in place, but four months later the city has not shown the court the actual rules.

He questions if there were ever any rules and procedures at all.

So far, 12,374 rape survivors turned over sexual assault kits to investigators, but those kits sat on shelves, untested for decades.

Nearly 6,700 kits remain untested, and it's unclear when the women's lawsuit will be heard in court.

WMC Action News 5's Kontji Anthony reached out to the City of Memphis. The communications office has not yet responded to her requests for comment on this story.

To view this month's full report on the rape kit backlog, click here.

For survivors/victims in need of service: Rape Crisis Center (901) 222 4350.

For information on your case: MPD Hotline (901) 636-3438.

To donate to end the backlog click here.

Copyright 2015 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.