Lipscomb’s Accuser Speaks to the Flyer


In a rambling telephone conversation, former Memphian living in Seattle speaks of his claims against the now-resigned city planning czar, his fears of retribution for speaking out, and his recipe for making things right.

In a telephone conversation with the Flyer on Thursday afternoon, the accuser of former city planning czar Robert Lipscomb asserted that he had spoken with Mayor A C Wharton by phone two weeks ago about alleged sexual improprieties committed against him by Lipscomb, and that, on the succeeding weekend, he had talked directly about the matter with Police Director Toney Armstrong and other Memphis police officials dispatched to Seattle by Wharton.

His in-person conversation with Armstrong and the other officers stretched across Friday and Saturday of that weekend for a cumulative total of about eight hours, according to the accuser, who spoke with the Flyer on condition that his name not be used.

The accuser (as he will be referred to henceforth in this article) attended at various times Booker T. Washington High School, Treadwell High School, and Central High School when he lived in Memphis, he said. It was during his high school years, “the summer of 2005,” when he was 16, that he was offered a ride by Lipscomb, who forcibly compelled him to perform oral sex.

On that first occasion, he said, Lipscomb paid him “$60 cash, then reached into his wallet and paid me another $140.” (That would explain why the lesser sum was included in a complaint eventually filed with the police four years later, in 2010, while recent news reports have used a figure of $200.)

“I was 16, I was homeless, I was manipulated, raped, and abused by Robert Lipscomb,” the accuser said.

As has been reported, the accuser acknowledges that he and Lipscomb maintained a subsequent sexual relationship for years but says that he never considered the then high-ranking city official to be a friend, mentor, or benefactor — merely someone who made him promises of advantages, including a house to live in, that never materialized. “The motherfucker promised me a roof over my head and a job,” but he failed to deliver, the accuser said.

“He continued to abuse me, which is when the relationship began to go sour as I began to recognize that this guy was pulling my leg,” the accuser said.

He was asked what evidence he had presented to Armstrong et al. to convince them of the truth of his claims. Specifically, he was asked if he made them aware of any emails or voice mails from Lipscomb. He said no, that what he had and what he showed the officers was a telegram from Lipscomb that corroborated an exchange that he said the two of them had had some years ago — presumably on or about the time of his 2010 police report.

It was not clear whether by “telegram” he was referring to alleged blackmail payments made to him by Lipscomb through Western Union.

What the “telegram" attested to, the accuser said, was that Lipscomb had requested — and he had sent the city official — a letter in which he stated explicitly that Lipscomb had done nothing improper with him sexually. He says that Lipscomb promised him, in return, that he would buy the accuser a house and perform other useful favors.

He said that he sent such a letter, but that he got no further response from Lipscomb after he sent it, and he asserts that he did not hear again from the city official.

The accuser was asked what other evidence he had shown the Memphis officers that would incriminate Lipscomb. “I told them I could describe Mr. Lipscomb’s penis,” he said. Told that it was hard to imagine situations whereby either the police, the Mayor, or any city officials would ask Lipscomb to drop his pants to check out such a description, the accuser responded, “This is a sexual investigation, so I think they should have to drop the man’s pants.”

Asked if he had been involved in other sexual relationships like the one he had with Lipscomb, the accuser said only, “I can’t speak about other investigations.”

He spoke of one other issue worthy of complaint — an occasion in 2011 when, he said, the police pushed him down and “injured me.” He did not say where this incident happened. (Reporter Jeni DiPrizio of WATN-TV, who has also talked to the accuser and done additional research, unearthed evidence in a Thursday night broadcast of several criminal charges formerly filed against the accuser, who at one point in his conversation with the Flyer, spoke, without elaborating, of having a “probation officer.”)

The accuser said that, before this story broke at large, he had tried to communicate it to several Memphis TV stations, but that only FOX-13 had originally treated his account seriously and expressed interest in following up on it. The station sent a reporter to Seattle to interview him and has broadcast brief excerpts from their interviews, which include claims — denied by city officials — that, like Lipscomb, they had defaulted on promises.

The city had offered him “compensation, exoneration, and justice, and they are delaying each one of those,” the accuser says in one excerpt broadcast by Fox.

The accuser said another Memphis station had sent a crew to Seattle to speak to him, but that, while he talked with them briefly by phone, he had refused to meet with them. “Naw, I told them to suck my weenie. They just fly out here without asking and think they can get an interview.”

The accuser said he worried about people arriving in Seattle with the intent to do him harm. He said if “a killer” came after him “with a gun or waving a knife, he’s going to get hurt.”

The accuser said his manhood had been injured by Lipscomb’s actions and that he had been tormented “psychologically, emotionally, and mentally.” He said, “I can’t move forward with this behind me.”

“It behooves Mr. Lipscomb to come out," he said, "forgive himself so I can forgive him.” He said that if Lipscomb (who has been charged with no crime) ended up going to jail, he would be killed by another prisoner as a child molester.

“He has to pay for what he did. He has to pay me back for all the pain and suffering he’s caused me over last 10 years. All he has to do now is come out and admit what he did.”

There had been suggestions that the accuser expected financial compensation from Lipscomb. Asked about that, the accuser said only that "admitting and apologizing are starting on the payment.” 

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