Archive for Friday, August 20, 2004

Victim raped in jail seeks $5M from Lyon County

Federal lawsuit names attacker, sheriff and County Commission as defendants

August 20, 2004

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— A woman who was raped by a Lyon County jailer after her May 2003 arrest for a traffic violation has filed a $5 million federal lawsuit against the county, the sheriff and her attacker.

Sheriff Gary Eichorn and the Lyon County Commission declined to comment on the lawsuit, but the commission voted 3-0 Thursday to hire legal counsel in the matter.

Former jailer Christopher Nava was convicted earlier this year of rape, aggravated criminal sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and trafficking in contraband in a correctional facility. He is now serving five years in state prison.

The lawsuit, filed by Erika Meyer last week in U.S. District Court in Topeka, seeks $2.5 million for violation of her federal civil rights and $2.5 million in punitive damages.

Meyer, whose hometown has not been disclosed, claims in the lawsuit that the sheriff knew or should have known that Nava had a history of sexually harassing female inmates but took no action to stop him.

The lawsuit also alleges that the sheriff and County Commission knew that the jail lacked surveillance equipment that would deter jail employees from taking inmates into an isolated room.

Nava was the overnight shift supervisor when Meyer was brought to the jail on May 11, 2003, by a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper who had arrested her in Emporia on a traffic violation.

According to the lawsuit, Nava made sexual comments about Meyer with other jail staff before taking her to an isolated room and offering her a cigarette in exchange for sexual acts.

After Meyer refused repeatedly, Nava undressed her and attacked her, according to the lawsuit.

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