More than two dozen female inmates at an Indiana jail claim in two lawsuits that a guard sold a key to their cellblock to male prisoners who unleashed a “night of terror” on them.
An initial federal civil rights suit was filed earlier this month by 20 women, and a new one was lodged this week by another eight. Both claim Clark County Jail Guard David Lowe made $1,000 selling the key to male inmates, who allegedly wore towels over their heads as they passed security cameras and entered the female prisoner pod on October 23, 2021. Once there, the men sexually assaulted the women, leaving many with various injuries. They did not leave until the next morning, according to the lawsuits.
“The men repeatedly threatened to sexually assault the women,” according to the lawsuits.
“It was literally two of the worst hours of their lives,” said Steve Wagner, an attorney for the eight women who filed suit this week.
Two women reported being raped and others were groped and harassed, according to the lawsuits. Women allegedly suffered “bleeding, vaginal tears, and genital herpes.”
A growing total of 28 women say they were victim to an assault INSIDE the Clark county jail after an officer allegedly sold keys to male inmates. https://t.co/fZXCi2WYhF
— Tom Lally (@tomlallyky) July 27, 2022
Despite screams for help, no guards came to the aid of the female prisoners during the hours-long attack, according to the lawsuits. Instead, guards allegedly put the women on lockdown and left the jail lights on for 72 hours.
“These females were doing everything they could to alert the jail staff. They were pounding on the door for help. They were hitting the buzzer on the inside of the pod in order to alert jail staff,” attorney Bart Betteau told 13WTHR.
Guards also seized “authorized personal property from the women such as pillows, blankets, and personal hygiene items without any legitimate security reason,” according to the lawsuits.
The lawsuit filed this week accused Lowe of giving inmates access to the women and being “deliberately indifferent” to the “substantial risk” they faced.
Other jail officers failed in their duty to protect female inmates and never intervened to stop the attacks, according to the lawsuits.
Lowe was summarily fired and charged with trafficking with an inmate, felony official misconduct, and aiding escape. Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel is also named in both lawsuits, which accuse him of not providing proper training for the guards.
“These systemic failures allowed numerous male assailants to have free run of the jail for several hours, resulting in a night of terror for the Plaintiffs and other victims,” lawyers for the women declared.
Clark County is in the southern portion of the Hoosier state, directly across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky.