» Subscribe Today!
More of what you want to know.
The Daily News
X

Forgot your password?
Skip Navigation LinksHome >
VOL. 129 | NO. 78 | Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Oldham Catches Criticism for County’s Rape Kit Backlog

By Bill Dries

Print | Front Page | Email this story | Email reporter | Comments ()

Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham took fire at a weekend political forum over his department’s backlog of 300 untested rape kits, which Oldham revealed during budget hearings before the Shelby County Commission earlier in the week.

OLDHAM

YBOS

Meaghan Ybos, whose 2003 rape was investigated by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department but not tested until nine years later, pressed Oldham at the Saturday, April 19, forum held by the Memphis branch of the NAACP about when he found out there was a backlog.

“The Memphis Police Department discovered those. We asked in 2010, when I took office, to have all of those sent to me that were rape kits,” Oldham said. “We received 15 or 20. During the process of MPD checking their property rooms, they discovered a number of rape kits – in the thousands for them, in the hundreds for us. … We immediately began in 2010 a process of our investigators taking those immediately to the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) to be processed.”

The TBI is only able to process 10 a month, Oldham added. So his department is using a certified private lab to test kits more quickly, at a rate of 50 a month. He put the backlog at 170 rape kits.

When Ybos pressed for more details on why the backlog wasn’t disclosed earlier, Oldham said he couldn’t comment further because of the federal lawsuit Ybos and two other rape survivors have filed in U.S. District Court over the backlog.

Ybos countered that the Sheriff’s Department is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Oldham said county government in general is named as a defendant.

Most of the 80 people who attended the forum at Mt. Olive Cathedral CME Church were either candidates or supporters working in their campaigns. The largest groups in attendance were supporters of Oldham, wearing yellow and green T-shirts, as well as Bennie Cobb, his Democratic challenger in the August county general election, sporting black and gold T-shirts. Neither Oldham nor Cobb faces opposition in their respective primaries on the May ballot.

Cobb did not bring up the rape kit backlog.

Both Oldham and Cobb touted their law enforcement experience

“I cannot knock Bill Oldham’s experience. He has 34 years’ law enforcement experience. I have over 30 years,” said Cobb, who retired in 2011 from the Sheriff’s Department as a captain after 31 years. “But the difference between Bill Oldham and I is service. I’ve been boots on the ground. I’ve been out here with these kids.”

Oldham was elected sheriff in 2010 after serving as chief deputy to Sheriff Mark Luttrell and before that as Memphis Police deputy director and director. He touted his department’s community outreach during his tenure, as well as the formation of the Multi-Agency Gang Unit and the Sheriff’s Office’s participation in the unit.

“We’re working tirelessly to make sure we reach out to the community and work in those organizations that have an impact with our youth in allowing them to have opportunities to have mentors, to have tutors, to have coaches that are involved not only with faith-based organizations by my organization,” Oldham said.

Sign-Up For Our Free Email Edition
Get the news first with our daily email


 
Blog Get more from The Daily News
Blog News, Training & Events
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 65 366 17,721
MORTGAGES 70 417 23,068
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 15 91 4,519
BUILDING PERMITS 210 932 42,157
BANKRUPTCIES 62 299 16,691
BUSINESS LICENSES 19 80 5,781
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 49 305 25,174
MARRIAGE LICENSES 16 96 5,381

Weekly Edition

Issues | About

The Memphis News: Business, politics, and the public interest.