MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Le Bonheur Children's Hospital is getting out of the business of performing forensic examinations on child sexual assault victims. It's a move that has Shelby County leaders scrambling to fill that void.
No one is really saying why Le Bonheur is turning over this responsibility, and there are lots of rumors. One thing is certain: as of September 1, child rape victims will be going to the Shelby County Rape Crisis Center for help.
Le Bonheur took over examinations of child rape victims several years ago after problems surfaced at the Memphis and Shelby County Rape Crisis Center. At the time, hospital leaders prided themselves on stepping in to help.
But something has changed. Less than a week ago, Shelby County was informed the hospital was no longer going to perform the forensic examinations.
Staffers at the Shelby County Rape Crisis Center say that doesn't give them much time to prepare for the influx of children who will now be coming to their center. They're trying their best to be ready.
"The Rape Crisis Center has staffing 24 hours a day with nurses and advocates and we're are willing to do anything we can and step in and help in this situation," stated Anna Whaley with the crisis center.
Whaley was limited in what she could say to ABC24 News because this has become such a touchy subject.
The explanation from a Le Bonheur spokesperson is that the change is best for the children.
In an August 27 new release from the county, Community Services Director Dottie Jones stated, “We’re discussing the new procedure with law enforcement agencies and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office. Having a primary place for emergency rape case examinations will make it easier for victims to find assistance.”
Last year, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital performed more than 200 sexual assault examinations.