Nearly 30 current and former inmates in the women's detention facility in Clark County, Indiana, have sued a local sheriff, a corrections officer, and several other "unknown jail officers," alleging that they either actively or passively permitted male inmates to access the female housing pod and inflict a "night of terror" on female detainees.
According to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in New Albany, Indiana, 28 women allege that David Lowe, a corrections officer at the Clark County Jail, sold male inmates the keys to the women's facility for $1,000. Then late in the evening of October 23, 2021, the men entered the women's facility and attacked female residents for hours, while Lowe and other guards stood by and did nothing.
"This federal civil rights action arises from a night of terror at the Clark County Jail ... On the night of October 23, and into the early morning hours of October 24, 2021, numerous male detainees used the keys obtained from LOWE to enter Pods 4(E) and 4(F) where they raped, assaulted, harassed, threatened and intimidated the Plaintiffs in this lawsuit, and other women, for several hours, resulting in significant physical and emotional injuries."
According to the lawsuit, at least two women were raped during the attack, and one of the victims became pregnant as a result of the assault and later miscarried.
"Since she had been in custody for numerous months, there is no chance she was pregnant before she entered the Clark County Jail," said William McCall, an attorney representing 20 of the women in the lawsuit. "My client had a miscarriage in December 2021."
Not only were the women brutalized, the lawsuit alleges, but they were subsequently subjected to harsh treatment from jail officials. After the attack, which was captured on jail surveillance, officers revoked the women's "dark" or "lights out" privileges at night, placed the residents in lockdown, and confiscated some of their personal belongings, including hygiene items.
Sheriff Jamey Noel is also named in the lawsuit.
"This was a complete and utter breakdown of the one thing that you should be relying, that you should be able to rely upon jails to provide and that's security. The response should be immediate. There are cameras in those pods specifically for that reason," said attorney Bart Betteau, who represents one of the women. "And when this happens, in the night, men crashing through the door and you have zero control from that moment on, maybe you can start to understand the damages these women went through."
Lowe was arrested within days of the incident and faces felony charges of escape, official misconduct, and trafficking with an inmate. His hearing is scheduled for November 2022. He has pled not guilty and told the Washington Post that the inmates stole the keys and that he had been "coerced and assaulted into making a false confession."