LEBANON, Ohio -- Documents from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office shine new light on an inmate’s claim that she was raped by a jailer in 2013.
Through the jailer’s personnel file, WCPO learned Friday that he had been suspended previously when he was accused of watching a female inmate change into her street clothes. The jailer even had been fired for other accusations of misconduct, but Sheriff Larry Sims said he was forced to hire him back.
An investigator’s report reviewed by WCPO raises questions about whether a hospital test actually found semen in the woman’s urine, as she claims in a federal lawsuit filed last week.
In that report, Warren County Detective Paul Barger said he and another detective watched video from the two days the woman was confined in the holding cell. That’s where she says she was raped. Neither saw any sexual assault, Barger wrote.
The sheriff said he fired the jailer for falsifying immigration documents in a scheme to help people stay in the U.S. illegally. But the jailer won his job back through union arbitration.
Still, Sims repeated his claim that the allegations in the lawsuit are categorically false.
WCPO has reached out to the jailer’s lawyer but hasn’t heard back.
The 38-year-old Cincinnati woman turned herself in on May 3, 2013, on an old warrant for deception to obtain drugs; she was admitted to the jail the same day. Seven days later, a urinalysis at Atrium Medical Center found sperm in her urine, according to the lawsuit. The suit cites that test as proof that she had been raped in jail.
But an Atrium staff member told Barger the test result “meant nothing,” according to the investigator’s report. She said the test result might have been caused by bacteria or a contaminated test instrument.
WCPO tried to confirm that with Atrium, but a representative said the hospital is prohibited from releasing patient information.
The woman’s attorney countered by saying they have proof that the test was absolutely positive for sperm.
“I saw that part of the investigation report,” attorney Jennifer Branch told WCPO Friday. “That investigator made a phone call to a lab technician. We have actual lab records that are certified by the hospital and they clearly show there were sperm on the lab slide.”
The sample can’t be retested or entered in evidence because it was destroyed by the hospital, Barger’s report says. Atrium told him it only keeps samples for seven days. It was eight days after the test when the woman’s previous lawyer called and said she suspected the woman had been raped.
Barger said he did not find evidence of a sexual assault in his investigation. That explains why no charges have been filed.
Besides the rape accusations, the woman is suing six jail nurses and the health services administrator. The suit says they refused to give her prescribed medication for epilepsy, causing her to have debilitating seizures during her 11 days in jail. And it claims they lied to others to cover up their mistreatment.
Without her meds, the woman suffered trauma and psychosis, the suit says. At times, she cried uncontrollably and acted erratically. At other times, she was unresponsive and motionless, agitated and confused, it says.
Barger said he tried twice to talk to the woman while she was at Summit Behavorial Health, a psychiatric hospital where she was sent. Hospital staff told him each time that she was in no condition to talk, he said.
The woman received proper medical treatment at Summit and she was stable enough to be released on July 11, 2013, her suit says.
Barger said he didn’t get to interview her until a month later at another attorney’s office. Barger said that’s when the woman told police she had been sexually assaulted in jail.
According to Barger’s report, the doctor who discharged the woman from Summit thought she had been sexually assaulted in jail, though Dr. Neil Dunseith didn’t say so explicitly in his discharge summary.
Dunseith said the urinalysis report from Atrium “raised the question whether or not she had been abused physically and/or sexually at the jail,” and he added:
“All-in-all, it was a very confusing presentation until the question of trauma was raised, at which point the clearer etiology was that she was actually experiencing a sequel of trauma and possibly an acute stress reaction.”
The defendants have two months to respond to the suit.