An anonymous rape victim has launched a class action lawsuit against Memphis, alleging that it had a policy of disregarding rape kits, either throwing out or simply neglecting some 15,000 of them over a period of decades, Courthouse News reports. Jane Doe says she waited 13 years for police to test the bodily fluids she submitted after a burglar raped her, an experience shared by thousands of other victims. In many cases, the kits spoiled while waiting for testing. The city, the lawsuit alleges, "has a history of discriminating against females," and gave these assaults a lower priority.
The suit is asking the court to declare the practice unconstitutional, and to issue an injunction to end it. In November, Memphis publicly admitted that it had 12,113 untested kits in its possession, and said it would cost more than $4.6 million to test them, according to WMCTV. But the lawsuit raises new questions by arguing that this was no accident, Bill Dries at the Memphis Daily News writes. It claims that the city knew about the policy "approved it, condoned it, and/or turned a blind eye to it." The 15,000 estimate is based on the number of sexual assaults reported to third-party agencies over that period. A 2010 report estimated that 180,000 rape kits sat untested nationwide.