Robert Lipscomb knows his accuser, Bobby Harris, but he never had a sexual relationship with him when he was a minor.
Lipscomb met Harris “many years ago” but not through his duties as director of the Memphis Housing Authority. Lipscomb never offered to help Harris or his family obtain housing. Lipscomb never gave Harris MHA money. Lipscomb never called Harris from the MHA office and “does not know why” Harris called him there.
These statements are all according to Lipscomb’s attorney, Ricky Wilkins, who fought back for his client during this morning’s meeting of the MHA. The defensive statements were in a letter dated today from Wilkins to Lori Patterson, an attorney for Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, and Berkowitz. The MHA hired the firm to conduct an internal investigation of Lipscomb.
Wilkins gave the letter to MHA board members during their meeting today, which focused on whether or not to retain Lipscomb. The board voted to retain him but maintain his suspension with pay.
The letter says Lipscomb will cooperate with the investigation but sought to narrow the focus of the review to “his performance of official duties, but not to matters outside the scope of his duties.”
Wilkins also acknowledged that the internal investigation began after a “public announcement form the Memphis Mayor’s office and subsequent local media coverage of an ancient, unfounded allegation of sexual misconduct lodged by an individual named Bobby Harris.”
Naming Harris, Lipscomb’s original accuser, was a bit of a bombshell. Several reporters (including our own Jackson Baker
) have talked to Harris over the past month but only on the basis of anonymity.
Wilkins also gave MHA board members a letter dated 2011 from Harris
, who was apparently apologizing to Lipscomb. That letter was apparently received by the MHA and a copy was maintained by that office ever since, according to Wilkins.
In his letter, Wilkins said Lipscomb was aware that Harris filed a criminal complaint against him, “which was completely baseless and unfounded, and Mr. Harris later recanted his allegations.”
Further, Wilkins said the allegations and the timing of their surface might be politically motivated.
“Unfounded and unsupported allegations made by the (Memphis Mayor A C Wharton) and (Chief Administrative Officer Jack Sammons) about matters of which they have absolutely no personal knowledge, during a political season, are not valid reasons for MHA to conduct an investigation, especially in light of Mr. Harris’ other allegations that the Mayor’s office offered to pay him if he would renew the 2010 allegations,” Wilkins said in the letter. “The reasons for the actions by the Mayor’s office are beyond the scope of this response, however, at the appropriate time, these issues will certainly be addressed.”