Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Ex-inmate sues jail for attack

Child molester: County failed to protect him

By Jim Hannah
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - A former county prisoner claims he was beaten by an inmate in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Grant County jail.

Benjamin Morris' lawsuit is at least the eighth civil rights suit filed at the federal courthouse in Covington since February 2003 against the 300-bed facility 44 miles south of Cincinnati.

Morris, 20, of Williamstown seeks unspecified damages in the lawsuit, filed Thursday. Named as defendants in the suit are Morris' former cellmate, Robert Dameon Flege; the detention center; Jailer Steve Kellam; and Grant County Fiscal Court.

It also includes unspecified jail staff members.

Jail attorney Tom Nienaber of Crescent Springs couldn't be reached for comment Monday, but Kellam has previously denied any wrongdoing. He insists the jail is safe.

Morris claims that Flege, a known violent offender, beat him up in August 2003. Morris, who is 6 feet tall and 225 pounds, says he was injured on Aug. 7, 2003, after Flege struck him in the head and face.

Morris, a registered sex offender, was locked up three days before the attack for violating his parole by working at a booth at the Grant County Fair. Morris was convicted of two counts of first-degree sexual abuse. He was accused of molesting a 5-year-old boy, according to circuit court records in Grant County.

Morris and his attorney, Mark Ogle of Fort Mitchell, couldn't be reached Monday for comment.

"(The defendants) should have known that (Morris) would be subjected to this type of violence and/or treatment prior to placing him in that facility, due to the ongoing treatment and brutality previously imposed upon other inmates prior to the Plaintiff's arrival, for which they were well aware of prior to this incident," Ogle wrote in the suit.

Many of the claims Morris made are similar to ones levied in the seven previous suits that are still pending in federal court. Morris claims he was denied medical care after the attack, that the staff tried to cover up the incident and the jail is not handicapped equipped.

It was unclear from the suit if Morris was disabled in any way.

The suit, which asks for unspecified damages, also claims the jail staff is poorly trained.

The jail's former nurse, named as a defendant in at least four of the suits, has filed her own suit against the jail. Sandra Cook of Williamstown claims she was fired for reporting suspected violations of federal and state laws at the facility.


E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com

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