Friday, January 16, 2004

Pendleton may be added to jail suit

Allegations made against employees

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILLIAMSTOWN - New accusations have arisen that some deputies encouraged the sexual assault of a Northern Kentucky teenager locked up overnight in the Grant County jail on traffic charges.

The teen's attorney, Don Nageleisen of Covington, claims a Pendleton County sheriff's deputy who drove the teen to jail falsely told the jail staff the teen had been an "uncooperative prisoner" and needed to learn a lesson.

Nageleisen has asked U.S. District Judge David Bunning's permission to amend the teen's civil rights lawsuit against the Grant County jail to include Pendleton County fiscal court, the sheriff's department, the deputy who drove the teen to jail and four additional jail employees.

Pendleton Judge-executive Henry Bertram said the county's insurance carrier has advised him not to comment. County Attorney Don Wells also declined to talk about the possibility of the county being included as a defendant in the civil rights case.

The Cincinnati Enquirer requested a videotape of the traffic stop through the state's open records law. After the Kentucky State Police refused to release the video, the newspaper asked a judge to compel police to release the video. The case is pending in Franklin Circuit Court.

The teen eventually pleaded guilty to driving 35 mph over the posted speed limit and paid a $100 fine. A trooper had originally charged him with attempting to elude police.

Nageleisen, who is representing six additional clients who are suing the jail, claims jail employees passed along the word that the teen hadn't been a cooperative prisoner. Instead of following normal procedure and holding the teen in a detoxification cell, Nageleisen said the 125-pound high school student was transferred to the general population of the jail and locked in a cell with convicted felons.

Nageleisen said deputies told the inmates that they were bringing them "fresh meat" and that one prisoner yelled, "it's Valentine's Day, bring him over here."

"Despite this conduct, the deputy jailers still placed the plaintiff in Cell 101 where he was immediately attacked, assaulted, battered, stripped naked, sexually assaulted, forced to perform sexual acts on other inmates," Nageleisen said.

Jailer Steven Kellam has denied all claims made in the lawsuit.

In July, three inmates pleaded guilty for their roles in the sexual assault of the teen. A Grant County grand jury has declined to indict any jail employees in connection with the attack, and a police investigation of the jail resulted in no charges against any employees.


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