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Rape victim shocked at number of untested rape kits

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

The sheer numbers are staggering - 7,000 backlogged rape kits; 7,000 stories of fear, shame, and despair.

Few, if anyone, knew she was even in the room. But, for years Terry Aldridge Burks was used to being silently ignored. But, not today. Not anymore.

"I was in shock. I was basically in shock," said Burks. "So, I didn't push it a lot until within the past couple of years. I know I've been waiting 25 years for answers and the main question has been what happened to my kit? What did ya'll do with it? What are you going to do with it? So, I too want to applaud the police department for not sweeping it under the rug."

MORE: Memphis council to fund testing backlogged rape kits

It was Burks' emotional appearance that put a name and a face to the outrage surrounding the discovery of more than 7,000 untested rape kits now being addressed by the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County District Attorney General's office.

She reminded us how personal and intrusive the crime is to female victims and their families. It's an invasion of body, mind and spirit that is not limited to race, relationships or political affiliations, as tearfully expressed by former Memphis City Councilwoman Tajuan Stout Mitchell, who made a pointed reference to the absences of current Councilwomen Wanda Halbert and Janis Fullilove during a council committee discussion on the rape kits.

"We represent your mothers, your wives, your sisters," Mitchell said. "Just some of your girlfriends. I'm disappointed that the women who represent me on this council are not present."

MORE: Council grills MPD about backlogged rape kits
MORE: MPD gets $500K grant to test 2,200 backlogged rape kits
MORE: RAINN: What is a rape kits

After Police Director Toney Armstrong and DAG Amy Weirich spoke of the need to invest time and man hours into organizing materials and preparing the kits for potential DNA processing, it was suggested civilian help could be sought to assist in moving the process along.

"If we're going to go to all the trouble and time and money of getting these rape kits finally to the lab, then it's our concern that the police and prosecutors have all the personnel in place to then deal with whatever these rape kits show," said Deborah Clubb, Memphis Area Womens' Council Executive Director.

"If all 109 prosecutors in the district attorney general's office have to divvy up files and work on indictments and get them ready for the grand jury, then that's what we're going to do," DAG Weirich said. "Because that's what this is all about is getting these violent criminals off the streets."

"I just wanted to be supportive of those women who couldn't come down here and possibly stand up," Burks added.

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