JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WTVO) — Twenty-eight female prisoners at an Indiana jail said they were raped, assaulted, or harassed after a corrections officer sold keys to their cells to male prisoners for $1,000.
According to a lawsuit filed in Clark County, the inmates allege that guard David Lowe, 29, gave access to the women’s wing for several hours to male prisoners on October 23rd, 2021.
The women claim in the lawsuit they were subjected to a “night of terror,” with at least two claiming they were raped, others groped, fondled, harassed, and intimidated, according to NPR.
“Plaintiffs were injured and suffered serious bodily injuries, some of which are permanent, pain and suffering, shock, extreme emotional distress, and humiliation,” according to the complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
One woman said she contracted genital herpes as a result of the assault, another said she became pregnant and later had a miscarriage.
Lowe was arrested on October 25th on charges of Felony Aiding, Inducing, or Causing Escape; Felony Official Misconduct, and Trafficking with an Inmate.
He was fired immediately, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Lowe said he made a mistake that enabled the inmates to steal the keys, but he was “coerced and assaulted into making a false confession” and learned about the incident days after it happened.
In the interview, he denied taking money in exchange for the keys.
Jail staff found out about the incident the following morning through an attorney for one of the women in custody, and began interviewing corrections officers, male prisoners, and other women held at the jail.
“The events of October 23rd were the result of the unforeseeable criminal actions of a rogue corrections officer. The individual in question chose to abandon his training, ethics, and morals and made the unilateral decision to mortgage his career and future by allowing inmates access to the jail keys,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Sheriff’s Officer attorney Larry Wilder told NPR “these interviews have yielded information that is in direct opposition to the allegations made in the civil lawsuit,” adding “the investigation seems to indicate that there was a systematic plan by individuals who were incarcerated that evening to develop the narrative that makes up the crux of the claims in the civil case.”
“This investigation is not over and the sheriff is committed to [ensuring] that nothing of this magnitude or scope [ever] occurs again,” he said. “However, the sheriff is equally committed to debunking those untruths that have been alleged by those who are attempting to reap financial gain from the crimes of David Lowe.”
Another lawsuit was filed earlier in June, by 20 female inmates who alleged that Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel and jail guards allowed male inmates to gain access to their cells.