Sheriff disputes allegations of sexual assault during October incident at Clark County Jail
JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) - Clark County investigators said they found no evidence of sexual assault when male inmates invaded the women’s area of the jail.
The October incident resulted in a federal lawsuit filed by 20 women alleging rape and assault after a jail employee allegedly sold the men a key.
“Sexual assault is evil, and my office will always do everything we can to prosecute those who prey on women,” Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel said in a statement released Monday. “But there’s not a single woman who has cooperated with investigators who says was sexually assaulted by male inmates on 10/24. If any woman was assaulted, we beg them to cooperate with us and actually speak to investigators so we investigate any wrongdoing.”
Jeffersonville attorney Larry Wilder, representing Noel, showed reporters a hard drive he said contained video and inmate accounts of the incident.
“And it doesn’t appear to me that there’s anything on there that causes me to believe that there was sexual assault,” Wilder said. “Absolutely correct. I’m gonna tell you what I’ve seen, there’s nothing that I have seen that makes me believe any assault occurred.”
Wilder also compared the incident to a college “panty raid” angering attorneys for the women’s suing the department.
“Think about the tone this sets for the jail,” plaintiffs’ attorney William Perry McCall III said. “For him to characterize this as a panty raid, for future women that are in that jail that are there thinking they’re safe, and Mr. Wilder is classifying this as a panty raid?”
In October, jail officer David Lowe allegedly sold keys to male inmates so they could access the female pods in the jail.
In their lawsuit, the women describe male inmates invading their pods with “towels and blankets covering their heads and faces.”
The men allegedly “grabbed and groped” the female inmates, “exposed their genitals” to the women, made “sexual and threatening statements,” and two of the female inmates were allegedly raped.
”And so I’m just very disappointed that anyone made any sort of comment that this was anything like a panty raid,” plaintiff’s attorney Bart Bettau said. “I just can’t believe the insensitivity.”
Attorneys for the women said they have not yet seen the jail video, but stand by their clients’ stories.
Democrats critical of the Sheriff’s management of the jail today publicly called for an independent investigation.
“These women were never taken to the hospital, they never had the opportunity to have a rape kit done, there were no exams, no evidence collected and no reports were made,” former Indiana State Representative Linda Lawson said. “Why did not these women have immediate care and why was it not provided?”
In his statement, Noel said, “The lawsuit filed in recent comments from my political opponents contains more false statements and incorrect information than I can count.”
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