Sammons: Lipscomb Allegations 'Sickening,' City to Offer Free Counseling

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Memphis Chief Administrative Officer Jack Sammons talks to the media Wednesday morning. - TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
  • Memphis Chief Administrative Officer Jack Sammons talks to the media Wednesday morning.

Memphis officials will soon offer counseling and free assistance for any victims that come forward alleging any sexual misconduct by former city employee Robert Lipscomb.

Lipscomb resigned his post as director of the Memphis office of Housing and Community Development on Monday following an allegation of statutory rape from a minor male beginning in 2003. Lipscomb was suspended with pay from his post as director of the Memphis Housing Authority by its board Wednesday morning.

Since the original allegation surfaced Sunday night, eight more victims have come forward, according to the latest figures from Memphis Chief Administrative Officer, Jack Sammons. He said Wednesday morning that the city would announce later this week that it would provide free therapy and counseling “for victims that have been in any activity as alleged by” the original complainant.

After Sunday’s revelation regarding the sexual allegations against Lipscomb, Sammons said other possible victims have been calling the mayor’s office directly.

“I don’t care how many times you listen to one of those, it is…I mean it sends chills down you,” Sammons said.
“Listen, I’m a dad of a young male. The first call I had like that absolutely unnerved me.”

He said many of the callers’ stories are consistent with the original complaint against Lipscomb. But, he said, many of the callers get angry and hang up before they can be transferred to CrimeStoppers. Sammons said the mayor’s office is trying the best they can to remove itself from that part of the investigation and pushing all similar calls to CrimeStoppers.

“I’m not an investigator; I’m not the police director but we’re trying to be sensitive to these victims,” Sammons said, noting one reason the mayor’s office will offer free help to possible victims.

That the MPD investigated the original complaint in 2010 made headlines Tuesday. The male accusing Lipscomb told The Commercial Appeal that the MPD swept his complaint under the rug. When asked about that Wednesday, Sammons said, “I don’t think so at all.”

He said he read much of the email traffic from that time period about the case. MPD made several attempts to locate the male but could not. They located his aunt, who pointed them to the Union Mission, where the male was known to stay.

“The young man was homeless,” Sammons said. “We have a lot of homeless people in this community and it’s not like there’s a directory of them that we can contact.”

With that, Sammons said the investigation hit a roadblock, even though MPD made a “diligent effort to find him.” That is, until about two weeks ago.

“He called in; it was like a cold call into (Memphis Mayor A C Wharton’s) office,” Sammons said. “We take these kinds of things very seriously.”

Sammons said the male now has a job in Seattle and has been getting counseling, which is one of the reasons he came forward with the allegations against Lipscomb.

Wharton and MPD director Toney Armstrong talked to the male by phone on Friday, Aug. 21. He was unavailable by phone for the next three days so Wharton sent Armstrong and two sex crimes investigators to Seattle. They interviewed the male on Wednesday, Aug 26.

Late Sunday evening, Wharton sent a statement to the media that he had relived Lipscomb of his duties without pay. Late Monday evening, Lipscomb resigned from the post.

“As a government official and as a father, this is sickening to me,” Sammons said of the allegations against Lipscomb. “The thought of having someone who engages in this type of behavior against young, defenseless people is abhorrent to my core. I’m going to work night and day to make sure the youth in this community are protected against predators like this.”

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