The lawsuit filed Monday is the most recent of two lawsuits describing the incident. It was filed on behalf of eight of the women, all identified as Jane Doe, against Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel, now-former corrections officer David Lowe, and several “unknown” officers at the jail located in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
The first of the two lawsuits was filed in June on behalf of the other 20 victims. Both lawsuits argued that Noel and the jail guards violated the women’s civil rights by intentionally or negligently allowing the male inmates to access their pods and failing to come to their aid when needed. As a result, the women suffered physical, emotional, and psychological injuries in violation of their constitutional rights.
“Amazingly, even though there were surveillance cameras positioned in locations that showed the male detainees accessing the women’s Pods, and even though the incident involved multiple mail (sic) detainees and dozens of victims over an extended period of time, not a single jail officer on duty that night came to the aid of the Plaintiffs and the other victims,” the lawsuit says.
But allowing the male inmates is not the only thing the lawsuit alleges the jailers did, “rather than support the victims who were subject to sexual assault and abuse, Jail officials punished the women after the incident” by subjecting them to lockdowns, confiscating their property, and by keeping the lights on for 72 hours straight, NBC News reported.
The lawsuit also alleges that jailers failed to change the locks to the pod, even though the keys were still missing following the incident.
“Women were harassed, sexually assaulted, threatened, and completely terrified,” attorney Bart Betteau told WTHR. “When I met with each and every one of these women, and they broke down repeatedly, you get the impression, the understanding of what these women went through.”
The men who committed the assaults have not been held accountable as they disguised themselves. However, their intent was clear due to the language they used, the women said.
“The men, who covered their faces so they could not be identified, were yelling and threatening to harm the women if they called for help or pressed the emergency call button,” the complaint states.
The suit also included the language the men used when entering the women’s wing. “Where’s the p—- at?” the men yelled, according to the lawsuit. “I haven’t had p—- in two years!”
At least two women were raped. While one said she contracted genital herpes as a result of the sexual assault, another became pregnant and later miscarried, William McCall, one of the two lawyers representing the 20 women who filed the first federal lawsuit, told The Washington Post.
According to NBC News, the lawsuits were filed after Lowe was criminally charged in October with three counts, including escape, official misconduct, and trafficking with an inmate, according to online court records. His trial has been scheduled for November, and he faces at least nine years in prison if convicted of all three charges, according to the records.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Lowe said he made a mistake that enabled the inmates to steal the keys. He also insisted he was “coerced and assaulted into making a false confession” about selling the keys.
According to CNN, jail officials claim they “immediately” launched an investigation after reviewing security footage and recorded interviews with corrections officers, incarcerated men, and “over 40” women prisoners. Following the investigation, Noel’s attorney Larry Wilder claimed the sheriff’s department is making “immediate changes to the physical structure of the jail as well as reviewing procedure and practices.”
“A sheriff at the jail—they have one job, and that’s to keep inmates safe and secure. And it’s just a complete, utter failure that allowed this to happen,” Steve Wagner, a lawyer representing eight women, told The Washington Post.