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Archive for Tuesday, May 4, 1999

WOMAN ALLEGES COUNTY JAIL RAPE BY FELLOW INMATE

May 4, 1999

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Douglas County Sheriff's authorities are investigating how a woman and man ended up together in a holding cell at the jail, where the man allegedly raped her.

A Lawrence woman who says a fellow inmate raped her at the Douglas County Jail has talked to an attorney about filing a civil lawsuit in the matter.

The sheriff's department is investigating how the incident occurred, Sheriff Loren Anderson said Monday morning.

"She was in a holding cell. The door was not locked, and (the suspect) went into the cell also. Both had just been arrested within the hour," Anderson said.

The attack allegedly took place in a cell that Anderson calls the "dress-out room," an area where inmates change into jail clothes. The door to the dress-out room should have been locked, Anderson said.

"There was an error in there somewhere," the sheriff said.

Asked if he had taken disciplinary action against any employees, Anderson said, "not yet, because we're still in the process of finding out what happened. It could be a legitimate mistake, but still it's wrong."

Sheriff's authorities are unclear if a corrections officer escorted the man into the same room as the woman or if the man wandered into the room himself.

"The door was supposed to be locked," Anderson said. "I can't talk a whole lot about it, but two people got together and they weren't supposed to."

Corrections officers generally put only one inmate in the small room at a time.

"The room we're talking about is the dress-out room, where there's a little shower. The corrections officers can reach through and hand them the jail clothing," Anderson said.

The woman's husband reported the incident.

"The reporting party went by and peeked in the door," Anderson said.

Police had arrested the 24-year-old woman and her husband during a domestic dispute, the sheriff said.

The department listed the incident as a sexual battery, but Anderson confirmed that medical staff at Lawrence Memorial Hospital completed a rape kit for the woman.

Contacted Monday at her home, the woman said she wanted to consult with her attorney, Jerry Levy, before commenting. Levy later called the Journal-World and said he had instructed his client to not speak about the incident.

Asked for clarification about what happened -- sexual battery is a crime that covers a broad range of actions -- the woman said the man had raped her.

Sheriff's officials are waiting for results of the rape kit from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Anderson said.

Sheriff's officials did not arrest the suspect, the sheriff said.

"We'll take it to the prosecutor and let them decide if there's a charge," Anderson said.

The incident allegedly occurred about 6:20 p.m. April 18.

The sheriff's department did not release a report about the incident until late last week. Anderson said a lieutenant was holding onto the report awaiting lab results until a superior ordered the report be made public.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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