RUTLEDGE (WATE) - A lawsuit in excess of $100 million was filed Thursday on behalf of three former inmates of the Grainger County Detention Facility alleging the three women were subjected to rape and other coerced sexual conduct during their stays at the jail.
The suit names guard Jessee Cummings, supervisors Bobby Owens and Brad Johnson, as well as Sheriff Scott Layel and Chief Deputy Charles Biddle, whom the suit alleges failed to maintain and properly operate the jail.
The victims' attorney tells us the women were repeatedly raped by Cummings in different areas of the jail. He also says there were witnesses to the incidents.
The suit says the supervisors allowed the rapes to occur.
"Their inactions allowed these rapes to occur. We all know there has been a problem with the Grainger County jail," explained attorney Troy Bowlin II, representing the female inmates.
In the last several months, we've reported on low security and other lax standards in the jail. Also, a sheriff who was MIA for several months.
Bowlin says the suit is not designed to hurt the residents of Grainger County, but to force change needed to protect female inmates.
"So this does not happen to someone else's daughter," he said.
Local taxpayers are not pleased about the situation.
"I don't think it's right. I think the ones who allowed it to happen should be the ones to pay it," said resident Melissa Coffey.
"It's going to be hard to endure such a lawsuit. To endure such a high amount of money. But if they are found guilty how do you put a price on what's been done to these women," said Grainger County native Craig Lakins.
"There are other individuals who have experienced this form of sexual treatment from members of law enforcement in Grainger County," Bowlin said about how his investigation into this case continues.
"If there's more justice that needs to be done, it needs to be brought to the surface. Those people need to pay," Lakins said, about the possibility of more lawsuits down the road.
"These are merely allegations at this point. The county has no choice but to deny them because the case is still under investigation," said Grainger County Attorney Dirk Daniel, in response to the lawsuit.
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