NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Memphis lawmaker is pushing a bill that would make sexual abuse of a corpse a felony.
In 2018, Cameron Wright, a former St. Francis Hospital security guard was found on top of 37-year-old April Parham. She died of cardiac arrest.
Parham was in the morgue waiting for her organs to be donated. It was her last wish.
Her parents appeared on Capitol Hill saying not only should sexual abuse of a corpse be a felony, those who do it should be registered sex offenders.
“I heard it on the news that somebody at the hospital has been raped after they died,” James Parham said in front of the House Criminal Justice committee. “Said to myself—this guy must be crazy not knowing who the victim was.”
The victim was their daughter, April.
The day replays in James and Shelia Parham’s heads constantly.
“When the examiner was coming to get her eyes, her skin and bones, they found a security guard up on top of her,” April’s mother Shelia Parham said. “Having sex with her, I wouldn’t stay it was embarrassing, it was just awful.”
Wright pleaded guilty to the charge of abuse of a corpse.
A new bill titled “April’s Law” will make what Wright did a Class E felony and a requirement to register as a sex offender.
“Every time we catch one of these guys, we’re not catching them the first time, so it’s no telling how many times he’s already gotten away with it,” said Memphis Representative G.A. Hardaway.
There’s not a law currently that makes sexual abuse of remains a criminal charge.
“This type of crime is so perverted, it’s so horrendous that it’s offensive to the collective societal consciousness,” Hardaway said.
Rep. Hardaway says the family has led this effort and he’s doing what he can to get April’s Law signed
He continued, “I got a baby girl and I can imagine what would be going through my mind if such a horrific act had occurred to my daughter and I was sitting there admiring the restraint.”
But until the bill becomes law, April’s parents are pleading with lawmakers.
“I hope you all can do something when something like this happen again, [that] there are some consequences,” James Parham said.
April’s Law has bipartisan support and will head to the budget committee next. Wright was sentenced to three years in prison, but is currently in a diversion program to avoid jail time if completed.