Rape kit lawsuit moving forward, media barred from future depositions

Rape kit lawsuit moving forward, media barred from future depositions

Rape victims who sexual assault kits sat untested are one step closer to earning class action certification. The ruling would allow the victims in the case to move forward in court as a group and collect more evidence against the City of Memphis.

Deputy Director Mike Ryall and Deputy Chief Don Crowe are among the top-ranking officers in the Memphis Police Department. Before being promoted to top brass, they were assigned to the sex crimes unit.

In 2013, FOX13 reported the sex crimes unit had shelved more than 12,000 rape kits for decades. At least 150 victims are suing the city for failing to investigate their cases.

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The victims’ attorney called the stockpiled kits “the biggest scandal that’s hit the city in decades.”

“I believe that the stockpiling problem is going to span over a longer period of time than those two persons were responsible for. Nevertheless it's going to be insightful,” Daniel Lofton, the attorney for victims in the case, told FOX13.

Lofton said Ryall and Crowe cannot be held responsible for the backlog, but the can help explain how it was allowed to grow.

They won’t be the first officers to be deposed. In November, media was invited to hear Lt. Cody Wilkerson describe negligence and apathy within MPD’s sex crimes unit.

We were not able to record that deposition, but attorney Gary Smith spoke afterward.

"There was dereliction by the Memphis Police Department, particularly the sex crimes unit, that they were not test rap testing rape kits, which is the most important thing to solving these cases,” Smith said.

In court Friday, the City of Memphis asked the judge to bar media from future depositions. The judge granted that motion.

Media will not be allowed to hear the live deposition of Ryall and Crowe, but a redacted transcript of the deposition will likely be released afterwards.

Those depositions are scheduled for early July.