Memphis Woman Files Lawsuit, Claims Police Didn’t Investigate Her Rapist Until White Woman Was Raped

Memphis Woman Files Lawsuit, Claims Police Didn’t Investigate Her Rapist Until White Woman Was Raped

A 22-year-old woman is suing her local police department after she said it failed to properly investigate her alleged rapist, Cleotha “Abston” Henderson.

Alicia Franklin filed her lawsuit against the Memphis Police Department on Sept. 20 in Memphis, Tenn.  

Franklin said that Henderson raped her at gunpoint on September 21, 2021, after meeting him on a dating app. She filed a police report and completed a rape kit at a local hospital. Franklin also provided the MPD with her assailant’s first name, social media information, a description of this car and his phone number.  

The rape kit was submitted to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation days later, but Franklin’s lawyer, Gary Smith, contends that the kit wasn’t submitted with an expedited request, which he said could have led to an arrest and thereby prevented a death.

Henderson is also a suspect in the murder of school teacher Eliza Fletcher. He is accused of kidnapping and murdering Fletcher on Sept. 2 as she was jogging in Memphis. 

Eliza Fletcher (Image; The New York Times)

“The failure to rush or expedite on the DNA testing was not the only failure. They had numerous other ways of catching him right on the front end,” Smith told BuzzFeed News. 

Franklin also said that she believes Fletcher would still be alive had her case been prioritized.  

“I definitely believe she would still be alive today,” she said on “Good Morning America.” “They had more than enough evidence that night when they interviewed me to get him off the streets, but they didn’t.” 

Henderson had recently been released after serving 20 years in prison for kidnapping and was already a suspect in another kidnapping when he allegedly attacked Franklin.  

Smith also questioned why the police didn’t test Franklin’s phone for fingerprints.   

“If they had taken the fingerprints, they would have known who was it immediately. They had his first name. She gave them his phone number. She gave them the dating site. That’s just a few of the failures.” 

“She’s heartbroken for the Fletcher family,” said another of Franklin’s attorneys, Jeff Rosenblum.

“She is upset that her courage was disrespected… her courage on the day it happened to call the authorities and subject herself to an evaluation and examination where an assault rape kit was obtained. Her courage was not rewarded with prompt attention to this rape.” 

The Memphis Police Department had no comment.