Multiple women are claiming they were assaulted, threatened and raped by male inmates in the Clark County jail. Staff file photo
Multiple women are claiming they were assaulted, threatened and raped by male inmates in the Clark County jail. Staff file photo
JEFFERSONVILLE — After male inmates gained access to the female pods with a key sold to them by a former corrections officer, 20 women lodged in Clark County jail were victims of acts ranging from threats to assault and rape, attorneys claim in a lawsuit filed in federal court.

The civil proceeding stems from an ongoing criminal case against former Clark County corrections officer David J. Lowe. He was arrested last October and accused of selling a key allowing access to parts of the jail to an inmate for $1,000. Lowe is facing multiple felony charges and is scheduled for a jury trial in September.

The civil case, filed June 21 in U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana in New Albany, names Lowe, Clark County Sheriff Jamie Noel and “unnamed officers” of the sheriff’s department as defendants.

The News and Tribune doesn’t identify victims or alleged victims of sexual assault.

Attorneys Bart Betteau and William P. McCall III are representing the plaintiffs. The attorneys signaled in December an intention to file suit over the allegations.

After male inmates gained access to the female pods via the key, they “threatened, assaulted and raped” the plaintiffs over a span of multiple hours, attorneys state in the court records. Attorneys accuse the defendants of being accountable for the “horrific physical and psychological injuries” the women suffered as a result of the alleged attacks.

The attorneys claim the defendants violated the civil rights of the plaintiffs, inflicted on them intentional and wrongful emotional distress and were negligent in their actions.

Attorneys are asking for compensatory and punitive damages for the plaintiffs.

According to the lawsuit, two male inmates entered the female pods at about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2021. After threatening to hurt and even kill the women if they called for help, the men left and returned later with “several more male inmates who wore towels and blankets covering their heads and faces,” attorneys state in the lawsuit.

After being touched inappropriately and further threatened with sexual violence, at least two of the female inmates were raped, attorneys claim. A female inmate hit the emergency button after multiple hours and the men left after she began screaming for corrections officers, according to the court records.

The corrections officer who responded told the female inmates they had lost their “dark” privileges and the lights remained on in their pods for the next 72 hours, according to the lawsuit.

“Over the next several days, the female inmates were put on lockdown and taken to holding cells to be questioned,” attorneys state in the lawsuit. “The following Saturday, at approximately 8:30 a.m., the corrections officers returned and ‘shook down’ the female inmates. Officers removed the females’ personal items, including razors, pillows, blankets, colored pencils, etc.”

Noel is named as a defendant because he’s the “policymaker and decisionmaker” for the jail, attorneys state in the lawsuit.

“As such, he had oversight responsibility for ensuring that inmates were protected and not subject to abuse.”

Scottie Maples, chief deputy for the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, said the department doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

As for the criminal case against Lowe, he said the former corrections officer was swiftly arrested the same night authorities learned about the allegations.

“The sheriff’s office has always said that if someone is found to be corrupt, we will criminally charge them,” he said.
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