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Archive for Thursday, October 10, 2002

County commission, former sheriff sued for alleged jailhouse assault

October 10, 2002

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A woman who said she was sexually assaulted by a prisoner in 1999 while she was being held in the Douglas County Jail is suing a former sheriff and county commissioners for negligence.

The plaintiff seeks in excess of $75,000 in damages from Douglas County commissioners, former Sheriff Loren Anderson and then- jail officers Paula Wunder, Randy Smith, Wes Stewart and Jeremy Kline.

The plaintiff, through her Lawrence attorney, Jerry Levy, filed the lawsuit late last month after a similar lawsuit was dismissed in federal court.

On April 18, 1999, the plaintiff said she was placed in a holding cell in the jail and the cell door was left unlocked. She said an unidentified man from another cell entered her cell and sexually assaulted and battered her.

The woman, then 24, had been arrested with her husband during a domestic dispute.

Anderson launched an internal investigation into the incident and disciplined two jail officers. Another jail officer resigned before the end of the investigation for other reasons.

No criminal charges were filed in the incident.

Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug declined comment about the lawsuit on Wednesday. So did County Counselor Evan Ice. Anderson couldn't be reached for comment.

In October 1999, a similar lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan. In August, the case was dismissed.

Levy said the federal court decided defendants had qualified immunity from civil rights violations and the negligence allegation should be determined by the state court.

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