Dozens of women allege Indiana corrections officers, police did nothing as they were assaulted and raped

As of this writing, 28 women have filed federal civil rights lawsuits alleging they were assaulted, raped and harassed at the Clark County Jail, located in Jeffersonville, Indiana, last October during a “night of terror” overseen by indifferent and paid off prison guards.

Razor wire fences surrounding the Rockville Correctional Facility in Rockville, Indiana, in August 2015. [AP Photo/Michael Conroy]

In the lawsuits, the first of which was filed by 20 inmates in June, the second which was filed by eight more inmates this past Monday, the women allege that former corrections Officer David Lowe provided keys to at least one male inmate which allowed him and several other prisoners, under the watchful eye of Clark County jail officers, to enter the female pods beginning the night of October 23, 2021 and into early hours of October 24.

The lawsuit alleges that for over two hours jail security staff did nothing to stop the male inmates from going into the female pods and harassing, intimidating, assaulting and raping the female prisoners. The lawsuit alleges that despite the security cameras working and several security officers on duty, male inmates, with their faces covered, were allowed to freely enter the women’s cells and go on a rampage.

“Amazingly, even though there were surveillance cameras positioned in locations that showed the male detainees accessing the women’s Pods, and even though the incident involved multiple male detainees and dozens of victims over an extended period of time, not a single jail officer on duty that night came to the aid of the Plaintiffs and the other victims,” the most recent lawsuit states.

One of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit, known as Jane Doe 1, alleged that “multiple male detainees using the keys obtained from Lowe, entered Pod 4 (E) where they raped, assaulted, harassed, and intimidated Jane Doe 1, resulting in significant emotional and physical injuries, including but not limited to nightmares, bleeding, vaginal tears, and genital herpes.” The lawsuit says that multiple prisoners held her in place and told her to “keep quiet” while one inmate raped her.

Several other plaintiffs alleged similar injuries. While at least 28 women have come forward, one of the lawyers involved in the lawsuits says that there are more victims.

The federal lawsuit filed on Monday in the Southern District of Indiana, names as defendants not only Lowe but Jamie [Jamey] Noel, the Sheriff of Clark County, and unknown jail officers who have yet to be identified, but who refused to intervene for hours.

The lawsuit notes that during the period the assaults took place inside the jail, the security cameras that were in Pod 4 “recorded and provided live stream and audio to the Defendant Jail Officers,” allowing them to “monitor the male and female detainees housed throughout Pod 4.”

After more than two hours of terror, the jail guards finally intervened, causing the male prisoners to flee, at which point the guards began to punish the female victims, perhaps in an attempt to keep them quiet.

For three days straight, beginning the morning of October 24, the lawsuit alleges that jail security staff revoked the “dark privileges” of dozens of victims. The revocation of “dark privileges” meant that the lights inside the females pods were kept on day and night, a form of psychological torture, previously employed by US military and CIA torturers as a method to disrupt prisoners’ natural sleeping patterns.

In addition to keeping the lights on at all hours, the prison guards kept the women on “lockdown” status, preventing them from leaving their pods or using other “privileges.” Furthermore in the days that followed the attack, the lawsuit alleges that jail guards conducted shakedowns of the female prisoners pods and confiscated authorized personal items such as pillows, blankets and personal hygiene items “without any legitimate security reason.”

In an interview with Law & Crime, one of the attorneys for some of the women, William McCall, said that the attacks only became known after one of the women who was raped complained and was then moved to a different jail. The woman became pregnant due to the rape but later miscarried.

McCall told Law & Crime that during the hours-long assault, most of the women were “cowering under bunks” or hiding in bathrooms. McCall said that women who came forward to report the attacks to police were “treated like they were the perpetrators.”

That the police are engaged in a massive cover-up is clear from the charges filed against former corrections Officer Lowe. Reporting on his arrest last October, Fox Louisville affiliate WDRB quoted Scottie Maples, chief deputy of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Maples made no mention of the mass assault that took place at the prison due to Lowe’s and other officers’ actions. In a probable cause affidavit filed by the police last year, Lowe admitted to propping a door open allowing the inmates to access a secure area of the jail where the keys were located after an inmate offered him $1,000.

Downplaying the incident, Maples said that the keys obtained “were not security, exit doors.” He said, “They wouldn’t have been able to escape with those keys. They would have allowed internal movement within the jail probably to traffic things.” (Emphasis added.)

He added, “We are still investigating all the incidents we can. The subject here was criminally charged. I don’t anticipate other charges coming to inmates. The main focus was if we had a corrupt officer to put him in jail.”

Lowe was only charged with three crimes, trafficking with an inmate, aiding escape and official misconduct. A judge set his bond at $10,000 cash, and Lowe was released on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 on his own recognizance. His trial begins this September. Over 10 months later, no other prison guards or inmates have been charged with any crimes.

There is no question that the Clark County jail had adequate camera technology to observe the inmates at all times.

The jail previously allowed A&E to film the reality television show 60 Days In within the confines of the jail. The dystopian premise of the show is that “innocent volunteers” spend 60 days in jail with cameras recording inmates and guards alike. After episodes recorded in Clark County jail aired in 2016, revealing criminal activity by guards and inmates alike, Noel said that seven officers within the jail resigned, and five were fired for “unacceptable behavior.”

Noel told the Courier-Journal in 2016 that “over $200,000” worth of “surveillance equipment” was donated to the jail by A&E after the filming took place. Noel also said that for allowing A&E to film inside the jail, the sheriff’s office was paid $500 a day to film, totaling over $51,000.