The lawsuit stems from allegations that former LaRue County Detention Center deputy jailer Jerome Perry molested nearly a dozen women at the jail.
Eight former inmates at LaRue County Detention Center in Kentucky will receive $1.1 million as part of a civil rights settlement.
According to The News-Enterprise, the lawsuit was filed by a group of women who’d all spent time behind bars at LaRue. All of them had similar stories of sexual abuse and exploitation: in their complaint, they accused “discipline deputy jailer” Jerome Perry of intimidation and coercion.
Perry, says the Courier Journal, would withhold critical amenities from women until they gave in to his sexual advances. Sometimes Perry demanded that inmates expose their breasts; other times he tried to get more physical.
Women who refused to comply with Perry’s requests would be threatened with retaliation. In some cases, writes the Courier Journal, he’d plant contraband in inmates’ cells.
The complaints recounted in the lawsuit all occurred across a relatively short span of time: between the 1st of February, 2018, and August 20th, 2018. Perry’s misdeeds, too, seem to have been something of an open secret at LaRue—and not just an open secret, but a well-tolerated one.
Perry’s conduct, says the Courier Journal, was known to at least five other LaRue employees, as well as almost a half-dozen other deputies.
Al Gerhardstein, a civil rights attorney who worked on the case, said that cameras in LaRue actually captured Perry abusing women. But jail supervisors did nothing to discipline or stop him. Consequently, Gerhardstein says that Perry was able to subject his clients to repeated, unwanted sexual contact as well as “unrelenting verbal harassment.”
Two of the nine women in the suit—who were named in the complaint only as Jane Doe 1-9—said Perry had forced them to perform oral sex on him after they were placed in isolation units. Another said that he pulled her pants down in a break room, then attempted to sexually penetrate her. Others alleged Perry would plant alcohol in their cells—or other “contraband”—to intimidate them into staying silent.
“Some of the abuse was apparent on security cameras,” Gerhardstein said, “but no one was watching. That is outrageous.”
Gerhardstein’s firm, Cincinnati-based Gerhardstein and Branch Co., filed the lawsuit in February 2019. It named as defendants Perry, along with another former jailer—Johnny Cottrill—and LaRue County Detention Center.
Perry, adds the News Enterprise, recently accepted a 10-year plea deal; as part of its conditions, he pled guilty to five felony charges, including four counts of third-degree sodomy and another count of third-degree rape.
The lawsuit, settled earlier this week, awards a total of $1.1 million to the nine Jane Doe plaintiffs.
Gerhardstein said he hopes the settlement will bring some changes to LaRue, including better monitoring.