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VOL. 124 | NO. 106 | Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Rape Center Management Tops Council Agenda

By Bill Dries

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For the second time in two weeks, Memphis City Council members will discuss the management of the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center. The discussion is expected to dominate today’s council executive session at 1 p.m.

The center that counsels and examines rape and sexual assault victims from the tri-state area is the subject of two audits after staffing gaps at the 24-hour center recently led to at least two rape victims being turned away.

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton has hired a new director for the center and also has moved it from the Division of Public Services & Neighborhoods to the city attorney’s office, at least for the time being.

But he hasn’t discussed the center with the council.

Questions remain

Two weeks ago, several council members wanted to talk specifically to Kenneth Moody and Yalanda McFadgon, the director and deputy director, respectively, of the Public Services & Neighborhoods Division.

Instead, Chief Administrative Officer Keith McGee took the heat as Moody and McFadgon left the council committee room from an appearance on an unrelated item.

McGee admitted the administration doesn’t know why a letter from District Attorney General Bill Gibbons earlier this year warning of problems at the center was ignored.

Days earlier, Herenton also admitted that mistakes were made and declined to comment on the status of Moody or McFadgon, suggesting it was still an open question.

Council members disagree on whether the body should go as far as issuing subpoenas for an appearance by Moody and McFadgon. But most council members questioned Herenton’s solution of Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center taking over the care of rape and assault victims 13 and younger.

Le Bonheur approached the city with the offer as the crisis deepened, Herenton said.

Meanwhile, Shelby County Commissioners began tentative discussions last week about the possibility of county government taking over responsibility for MSARC. The committee discussion yielded no vote on any course of action.

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