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Civil rights lawsuit filed against Clark County sheriff after 8 women allegedly assaulted at jail

The lawsuit alleges an ex-corrections officer gave male inmates keys to access the female side of the jail, which allegedly led to attacks, threats and rapes.

CLARK COUNTY, Ind. — A civil rights lawsuit is being filed on behalf of eight women who allege they were sexually assaulted at the Clark County jail

The lawsuit is against Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel, former jail officer David Lowe and other unknown jail officers.

(NOTE: The video in the player above is a June 28 report on the first lawsuit to be brought forward in this case)

The lawsuit alleges an ex-corrections officer gave male inmates keys to access the female side of the jail, which allegedly led to attacks, threats and rapes behind bars. The lawsuit calls it a "night of terror."

The lawsuit claims the 2021 incident on Oct. 23 and 24 started with a $1,000 bribe behind bars from David Lowe, a now-former corrections officer, who's facing separate felony criminal charges. 

Credit: Clark County Sheriff's Department
David Lowe

With the keys, the inmates are accused of entering the part of the jail housing female inmates. The female inmates were then allegedly harassed, threatened, assaulted and raped. 

The lawsuit alleges surveillance cameras captured the male inmates entering the female inmates' cells, and the incident lasted for hours, no jail officer on duty came to the women's aid.

The suit alleges that after the incident, the women who complained were punished by jail staff.

The lawsuit also alleges that the violation of the Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights was the result not only of a single bad actor, Lowe, but also due to a systemic failure on behalf of the Clark County sheriff.

Another lawsuit filed on June 21, involves 20 women listed as plaintiffs. In that federal lawsuit, the women also claim the alleged attack by male prisoners went uninterrupted for hours.

"Women were harassed, sexually assaulted, threatened and completely terrified," said Bart Betteau, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs. "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."

Attorneys say they're now working to get video footage of the alleged incident that October night.

But Betteau said the mere presence of cameras inside and the alleged lack of staff intervention is why the women are suing not only David Lowe, but also the sheriff and "unknown" jailers.

"This was a complete and utter breakdown of the one thing that you should be relying, that you should be able to rely upon jails to provide and that's security. The response should be immediate. There are cameras in those pods specifically for that reason," Betteau said. "And when this happens, in the night, men crashing through the door and you have zero control from that moment on, maybe you can start to understand the damages these women went through."

That lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages and demands a jury trial. 

    

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