After dozens of female inmates at a jail alleged they were raped by male detainees, the sheriff of the Indiana county has released a website that he says refutes the claims.
The allegations were made by 20 women in a civil lawsuit in June and eight more women from a July lawsuit filed against former jail officers and Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel. The women in the second lawsuit described a “night of terror” when male inmates at the Clark County Jail gained access to their cells and sexually assaulted them, McClatchy News reported.
But Noel said “those accusations are blatantly false.” He created a new website ClarkFacts.com to share what he says really happened on Oct. 24, 2021.
The sheriff does not deny male inmates used a guard’s key to access a pod where the female detainees were housed, but he said surveillance footage does not show the allegations laid out in the lawsuit.
The 60 seconds of surveillance footage shown on the website was reviewed by the FBI and the U.S. Marshals, according to the sheriff.
“Male inmates should never be in the female pod of the jail. After learning of this betrayal, we took immediate steps to secure the facility and made several changes to prevent this from ever happening again,” Noel said on the website. “However, reviewing the surveillance footage of the time the male inmates were in the female pods shows no one in obvious distress. In fact, the surveillance footage shows male and female inmates talking in open areas and casually walking back and forth.”
The July lawsuit filed in the United States District Court of the Southern District of Indiana says women were “raped, assaulted, harassed, threatened and intimidated” over the course of “several hours.”
Noel said the entire incident lasted 40 minutes and that none of the female inmates told corrections officers they had been sexually assaulted.
But Stephen Wagner, who is representing the eight women in the July lawsuit, said the recently released footage does not prove anything.
“If this is the best the sheriff has, is 60 seconds of video of the common area, and he thinks that is what exonerates him from liability or contradicts the women’s story, then he’s crazy,” Wagner told WDRB.
The employee who received a bribe from male inmates for access to the key was fired by the sheriff’s office, he said.
That employee, David Lowe, was arrested after the incident and faces multiple charges, including trafficking with an inmate, the News and Tribune reported.
According to the lawsuit, jail officials punished the women after the October incident by leaving the lights on for 72 straight hours, denying them normal privileges and confiscating pillows, blankets and hygiene items.
Noel has not refuted that claim, but he said the website will continue to show the “lies, misrepresentations, distortions and myths” from the women’s lawsuits.
The Clark County Jail is in Jeffersonville, about 2 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky.