Lawsuit says female inmates at jail featured on '60 Days In' were punished after a guard sold keys to their cells and some were raped
- Eight women who say they were harassed and some of them raped in an Indiana jail are suing.
- A guard at Clark County jail sold a guard keys to their cells for $1,000.
Female detainees at a southern Indiana jail previously featured on the A&E reality show "60 Days In" are suing the sheriff in federal court after a male guard sold keys to their cells to male inmates who terrorized, harassed, and raped them, according to the complaint.
The eight women listed as Jane Does in the suit say Clark County Jail Officer David Lowe handed over the keys to the women's cells to male inmates on October 23, 2021, in exchange for $1,000, according to the complaint.
Attorney Stephen Wagner told Insider the jail has a history of controversy, sexual abuse, and misconduct, some of which was revealed years ago on the "60 days In" reality show.
The first two seasons of the show, which featured the findings of undercover inmates placed in the jail, were based in the Clark County.
The lawsuit says the malfeasance continued last fall, when male inmates who were given access to the reentered the pod covered their faces, and harassed, groped, and threatened the women for more than two hours into the next morning, according to the suit. Two women were ultimately raped by the inmates, according to the complaint.
Jane Doe #1 was left bleeding with vaginal tears and genital herpes, in addition to significant emotional injuries, Wagner wrote in the complaint.
The male inmates told the women that if they pressed the emergency call button, they'd harm them more, Wagner told Insider.
Within three days, Lowe was questioned, fired, and arrested, but Wagner told Insider he isn't the only one culpable.
"He was fired and then terminated, and you think that would have shifted the focus onto the assailants who accessed and assaulted all the women," Wagner told Insider. "But instead of making any arrests or charging any of the male assailants they took actions against the women."
Despite surveillance cameras filming the men entering the women's pod, no jail staff intervened, according to the suit.
In the days following the attack, guards frequently searched their cells, confiscated their hygiene products, and left the lights on for more than three days, Wagner said.
The lawyer called these actions "psychological punishment" in an effort to keep the females — who were being held at the jail pre-trial — from speaking out about what they experienced.
Initial reports of Lowe's arrest told half the story
Shortly after Lowe's arrest, local news ran stories about the security breach. At the time, there was no mention of any injuries to women in the jail.
A probable cause affidavit reviewed by WDRB said Lowe admitted to allowing inmates access to secure areas of the jail for payment.
Scottie Maples, chief deputy of the Clark County Sheriff's Office, told the station at the time that he didn't "anticipate other charges coming to inmates."
"The main focus was if we had a corrupt officer, to put him in jail," he said.
Attorney Larry Wilder, who represents the sheriff's office, told Insider that the lawsuit was filed by the plaintiff's lawyer based solely on what his clients told him.
Wilder said he has obtained "hours upon hours" of security footage from the jail and believes that when Wagner's office gets those videos through discovery he will know better whether the case is "viable."
Wilder said there were other corrections officers on duty, but only Lowe had been dismissed, adding any other personnel action that may or may not have taken place is "not appropriate for public comment."
When asked whether any inmates have been charged in the breach, he said that the criminal investigation remains open.
Wilder told NPR that there was a "systemic plan" by inmates to create the narrative described in the suit and denied the allegations.
But the jail has a troubled history.
In August 2015, one employee was arrested on a charge that he had sex with an inmate.
Noel, a retired Indiana state police officer and active member of the state and county Republican parties, said the show benefited the jail because it allowed him to identify and resolve problems.
Wagner said the recent breach is evidence that systemic mismanagement continues at the jail years after the show stopped filming there.
"Given that history, you'd think it would be better than the rest," Wagner said
Some of the victims remain at the jail
Wagner told Insider that some of his clients have been released or transferred to other jails, but some remain there.
"None of these women were convicted or sentenced. They were all pretrial detainees and they were just being held awaiting trial," Wagner told Insider. "A lot of them just don't have enough money to make bail and some will be dismissed or found not guilty."
The attorney is hoping his clients can remain anonymous as the case moves through court so they won't be retaliated against.
The women didn't understand why they were being punished after the male inmates accessed their cell.
"It just raised all sorts of questions, like why are you taking these actions against us? Why are we being punished? This is what my clients told me. They were scared and they felt like they weren't safe."
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