SAVANNAH, Ga. – On Thursday, Director of the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire Kesha Gibson-Carter stood before Savannah City Council to acknowledge and “correct numbers” from her presentation at the council’s previous meeting.
Gibson-Carter went on to say the Rape Crisis Center has responded to 123 cases in tandem with the Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department, 87 resulted in complete rape kit and 13 of those kits were anonymous.
She went on to add, “Since our presentation here at the last meeting I can tell you that I have been met with attacks and threats of arrest and charges and so I want to acknowledge to our fine district attorney Meg Heap and to our Chief of Police Jack Lumpkin, I have retained counsel and if and only if you decide to go forth with those pieces I wanted to let you know that in addition to providing resources of advocacy the organization also provides prevention education which includes bullying and this is work place bullying at its finest.”
WSAV spoke to Gibson-Carter to clarify why she chose to speak out at the public council meeting and what led to those accusations.
She said she made a mistake in August that she feels she’s been unnecessarily punished for many months later. While trying to get more attention for a rape case, she says, she mistakenly included the name of a child victim in an email to local leaders.
Gibson-Carter says she apologized for the mistake after she was made aware that what she did could be considered a misdemeanor. While that occurred back in August, she says, the District Attorney’s Office continues to withhold information, including police reports, from the Rape Crisis Center when they should be working together.
“I perceive it as retaliatory behavior as well as punitive actions on behalf of the district attorney’s office and the police department who continuously and consistently have presented this as an issue when neither of them have said anything about that issue [August email incident] until I raised issues during a city council meeting where I expressed concern for our low rates of arrests and our low rates of convictions.”
WSAV reached out to Metro Police to see if the accusation of withheld police reports was true and was referred to the District Attorney’s office.
WSAV also sat down with District Attorney Meg Heap who disputed the characterization that there have been too few arrests and convictions. She was also asked if those repeated allegations of bringing up a break of confidentiality were true.
“I informed the director [Gibson-Carter] that you’ve gotta be careful. It is a breach of confidentiality to put that out there,” Heap said. “Is it a misdemeanor?” Reporter Meredith Stutz asked. “It can be,” Heap replied.
Heap went on to say the alleged August email incident wasn’t the only time her office has had concerns about the Rape Crisis Center.
“The breach of confidentiality has been a continuing issue that we need to work on that when we talk about cases. We need to keep in mind that there’s a victim behind one of these cases,:” Heap said.
Gibson-Carter says her actions over all, have been positive and she is more concerned about the interconnected relationship between law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office.
“The only thing that I can deduce about be doing wrong is that they are so far in bed with each other that they cannot hold each other accountable. So this work that I’m doing is consistent with accountability,” she said.
Heap refutes any claims that her office is withholding information from the Rape Crisis Center and that her personal actions have not been threatening.
“I didn’t bully her. I explain the situation. There were many other issues that have been brought up trying to rectify and make the agencies work together,” Heap said.
Both women agree there is still a working professional relationship and hope each other can come to the table to continue to serve the community in whatever means possible.