by Toby Sells
Victims of serial rapist Anthony Alliano brought a new lawsuit against Memphis and Shelby County agencies Wednesday for damages stemming from what they say was a years-long delay in justice as law enforcement agencies mishandled their rape kits.
All three of the victims gave body fluid samples and DNA evidence to investigators after they were raped, according to the suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. The evidence was placed in sexual assault kits and transported to city and county agents for testing, the suit says. But the local governments “failed to timely submit, responsibly handle, and make due diligence” on about 12,000 such rape kits.
Evidence from the three victims in the new lawsuit was tested years after its submission. By that time, the evidence had spoiled to the point that it could no longer be legally used, the suit says, and this violates the victims’ constitutional rights to due process and violates the equal protection clause.
The suit names the city, the county, the Shelby County Rape Crisis Center, the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center, former Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons, current Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, former Memphis Police Department (MPD) director Larry Godwin, current MPD director Toney Armstrong, and Alliano.
The new suit also acknowledges the prior suit filed against the city in December. That federal class action lawsuit was filed by an unnamed Memphis woman who said she was raped in 2001. The lawsuit brought Wednesday says its victims have specific and relevant facts and claims, which warrants a case separate from the general class action suit.
Alliano is in jail now, convicted of raping eight women, the suit says. The lawsuit goes further, though, saying Alliano is believed to have committed more than 100 rapes in the Memphis and Shelby County area with the majority of them occurring in the Cordova area.