Prosecution: Inmates raped in Clark County, Indiana, in jail



Inmates were expecting it to be a guard during a routine check when a door opened at the Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville, Ind., late one night. last October.

Instead, two male inmates broke in, according to a new federal lawsuit. The men – masked with towels and blankets – threatened to kill the women if they alerted the guards.

It was the start of what the women would later describe as “a night of terror”. The two male inmates left, only to return with more men who exposed their genitals, shouted obscenities and groped the women, according to the lawsuit.

Two inmates were raped, according to the lawsuit.

Now, at least 28 women are suing Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel and then-Corrections Officer David Lowe in a pair of federal lawsuits recently filed in U.S. District Court in Southern Indiana. In both cases, the women allege that the sheriff and prison guards working for him violated the civil rights of women by intentionally or negligently allowing male inmates access to their pods and failing to assist them because the men attacked for more than two hours at first. October 24.

“A sheriff at the jail – they have a job, and that’s to keep the inmates safe. And it was just a complete and utter failure that allowed that to happen,” Steve Wagner, an attorney representing eight women, told The Washington Post. “And so we want answers about how it happened.”

Larry Wilder, an attorney representing the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, blamed the inmate-to-inmate attack on the “unpredictable criminal actions of a rogue correctional officer” who abandoned his training and abandoned his morals when he gave the inmates access to prison keys.

That prison officer, Lowe, told the Post he made a mistake that allowed male inmates to steal the keys that gave them access to the female capsule. Lowe, 29, claimed it was an accident – the result of being overworked in the weeks leading up to the attack, which he said he only learned about in the days after the incident, as he was working elsewhere in the prison. Lowe, who worked at the sheriff’s office for about a year, claimed he was then “coerced and assaulted into making a false confession” about selling the keys to inmates.

Lowe, who was fired days after the attack, has since been charged with criminal misconduct, assisting an inmate to escape and trafficking an inmate. He faces up to 9 and a half years in prison if convicted on all three counts.

Wilder, the attorney representing the sheriff’s office, disputed the inmates’ allegations involving the agency.

“The Sheriff’s Detective Division continued to interview female inmates who were present in the cell that evening and those interviews provided information in direct opposition to the allegations made in the civil trial,” Wilder said in an email. “Furthermore, the investigation appears to indicate that there was a systematic plan by individuals who were incarcerated that evening to develop the narrative which forms the crux of the claims in the civil case.”

The sheriff, Noel, is “committed to defending the untruths that have been alleged by those trying to profit financially from the crimes of David Lowe”, he added.

According to one of the federal lawsuits, which was filed this week, Lowe took $1,000 on October 23 in exchange for giving two male inmates access to keys that would allow them to move freely through several restricted areas. inside the jail. In his interview with The Post, Lowe denied taking any money.

Early the next morning, these two inmates, joined by several other men, walked through three pods where women were locked up, according to the prosecution. Unable to flee, the women hid under blankets, in the bathroom and in dark corners.

“It was terrifying for them. There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide,” Wagner said.

The men attacked dozens of women, according to the lawsuit. They fondled the women’s breasts and thighs, exposed themselves and threatened sexual assault.

Several men pushed one of the women, identified in the documents as Jane Doe 1, against the side of a locker and pinned her there as they touched her breasts, the lawsuit says. Then one of them raped her while the others threatened to shut up, according to the inmates. The woman contracted genital herpes as a result of the rape, according to the lawsuit.

Another woman who was raped became pregnant and later miscarried, William McCall, an attorney representing 20 of the women, told the Post.

Even though the attack lasted more than two hours, no prison guard came to arrest it, according to the prosecution. Surveillance cameras were positioned at locations that would have captured the men entering the pod and their ensuing attack, but “not a single prison officer on duty that night came to the aid of the complainants and other victims,” ​​according to the lawsuit.

“They kept thinking, ‘When is someone going to come and help us? No one is watching on the security cameras? Where are the guards supposed to patrol the prison? “Wagner told the Post.

After the attack, prison officials punished the women, according to the lawsuit. They allegedly revoked inmates’ “dark privileges” by leaving the lights on for 72 hours straight; locking pods out, which limited where they could go; and confiscated pillows, blankets and personal hygiene items.

Prison officials also did not change the locks on the gondola, even though the keys were still missing, according to the lawsuit.

Wilder, the attorney representing the sheriff’s office, said prison command staff learned of the attack the day after the incident from an inmate’s attorney. This sparked an investigation which included a review of security footage, as well as interviews with prison officers and inmates. Officials made immediate changes to the “physical structure” of the prison and reviewed its policies and procedures.

That work continues, Wilder said.

“This investigation is not complete and the sheriff has undertaken to [ensuring] that nothing of this magnitude or scope [ever] happen again,” he added.

Nine months after the attack, many women are still in shock, Wagner told the Post. They have trouble falling asleep and suffer from flashback nightmares when they do, he said. They don’t feel safe. Those who are still locked up fear a new attack.

“They’re having trouble sleeping at night, thinking, you know, ‘Is anyone going to come in through this door? Am I really safe?’ ” he added.

Wagner said none of the male inmates had been charged in the attack, which he described as “a continuing insult to women”. He hopes that the legal process will allow the women to get answers from the sheriff’s office about the possibility of the attack.

“Did people deliberately look away? Were they just not doing their job? said Wagner. “What happened that night to make this happen?”


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