Memphis rape victims go public with their stories - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Memphis rape victims go public with their stories

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

Two of the three women who filed a federal lawsuit over the backlogged rape kits went public Wednesday, saying it's all about accountability. They say they're sharing their story to help other sexual assault victims.

This case names several people, the current and former district attorneys and Memphis Police directors. The plaintiffs say they believe some of the people responsible for the rape kit backlog are still serving the public.

MORE: 3 rape survivors file federal lawsuit over untested rape kits

"We want to know how this happened," said  Meaghan Ybos. "We see that efforts are being made to fix this problem but you can't meaningfully fix any problem unless you know how it happened.

"We would like to be here using our faces and names to say we hope some change can come out of this disaster," she added.

Plaintiffs Ybos and Madison Graves were assaulted by Cordova serial rapist Anthony Alliano in 2003. Ybos was 16 at the time Alliano raped her. Graves was just 12.

MORE: Convicted rapist Alliano drops appeal, will die in prison

Alliano dropped his appeal in Shelby County Criminal Court on Monday and will serve a 178 year sentence. He admitted to raping seven Cordova women and girls over a seven-year period.

Ybos and Graves decided to go public with their stories. They say they're suing because they want accountability. They want to know why the city of Memphis and Shelby County weren't testing rape kits for decades and they weren't taking cases like theirs seriously.

Both of the women were raped days apart. They gave similar stories to investigators.

MORE: Memphis prepares to choose lab to test rape kits

But their rape kits were never sent for testing. Police detectives didn't take their accounts of the rapes seriously. They say authorities could have prevented other rapes by Alliano.

"It made me sick to know that my kit just sat there forever and this all could have been avoided," Graves said. "Everybody that was after us, she was number one and I was number two and everybody that was after us could have been avoided had they taken care of it."
 
"Clearly Alliano had attacked people before me," Ybos added. "It's just the public doesn't know about it yet. We hope that after all the backlogged rape kits are tested that we will understand more of the of the magnitude of Alliano's grasp on the community over the last decade."

The women say investigators didn't believe they were raped. They say the authorities continued to victimize them.

"I hope that they'll start doing things differently that if this happens to another 12-year-old girl or 16-year-old girl that her kit will be tested and he will be found and he won't have the chance to add seven other females to his list," Graves said.

The city of Memphis is currently holding more than 12,000 DNA sexual assault kits and is working to clear that backlog.

But officials weren't investigating what led to the backlog. The plaintiffs say this lawsuit will force the city of Memphis and others to answer some of those questions about how and why this happened.

They say that's why they decided to go public and share their stories.

The city of Memphis is working to clear the backlog of more than 12 thousand rape kits that goes back decades.     

It will take years and millions of dollars to complete. But the city hasn't been willing to talk about how this was allowed to happen. The lawsuit is also an effort to get answers.

"We want to know how this happened, we see that efforts are being made to fix this problem but you can't meaningfully fix any problem unless you know how it happened," Ybos said.

The lawsuit filed last week in federal court will take time to wind through the judicial process. It could be months before there are any developments.

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