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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Allegations of brutality detailed in lawsuits against Grant Co. jail

By Jim Hannah
Enquirer staff writer, OH

An onslaught of federal lawsuits since March 2003 - including one filed Tuesday - has unleashed gruesome story after story about alleged brutality in the Grant County Detention Center.

Sixteen civil rights suits have been filed against the jail since March 27, 2003, and one whistleblower and harassment suit filed by the jail's former nurse.

Here is where the suits stand:

Newly filed (pending)

Tuesday: Jovanni Mangotti filed suit claiming the guards failed to protect him after inmates learned he was a federal informant.

He said guards should have known his life was in danger when they locked him up in a crowded cell. On July 14, 2004, inmates took the 19-inch television in the cell and drove Mangotti's head through it. He says guards then waited hours before taking him to the hospital to be treated for a concussion, facial cuts and bruises and an injured eye.


March 27, 2003: An 18-year-old sued after claiming he was assaulted and sodomized by inmates while jailed on a traffic violation.

Court documents contain statements from inmates who allege at least one guard said he was bringing them "fresh meat" shortly before transferring the teenager to the cell the night of Feb. 13, 2003.

Three inmates were convicted in the teen's assault, but no charges brought against the guards.

May 16, 2003: A 24-year-old with a mental disability filed suit saying he was abused while serving time for violating his probation.

The man said he was placed in a cell with a federal prisoner considered dangerous and serving a life sentence. The prisoner allegedly raped and sodomized the 24-year-old. The suit claims guards falsely publicized to others in the jail that the man was serving time for molesting a child, knowing how alleged child molesters are treated in such facilities.

June 9, 2003: Convicted burglar Billy J. Killion filed suit claiming he was denied treatment for numerous broken bones after being beaten by fellow inmates.

Lawyers say Killion had three skull fractures, possible fractured ribs and a broken jaw, as well as extensive damage to his right eye. His attorney was even concerned he would lose his sight if the eye injury continued to go untreated.

They claim he was locked in solitary confinement in an attempt to cover up the beating.

July 15, 2003: A former nurse at the jail sued, claiming she was fired for reporting suspected violations of federal and state laws at the facility.

Sandra Cook claims in her suit that the jail violated Kentucky's whistleblower law and that she was subject to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment during her nearly three years of employment. Her lawyer claims she was fired in an attempt to keep her from talking to investigators looking into allegations of abuse at the jail.


May 11: U.S. District Judge David Bunning dismissed former inmate Sharon Wright's case. It's the only case dismissed in which the plaintiff had retained an attorney.

Wright claims guards beat her after she was unable to remove a ring from her hand because her finger was swollen. Guards had requested she take off all her jewelry as she was being booked in the jail.

Six additional civil rights suits filed by five former Grant County inmates who were attempting to represent themselves have also been dismissed.

The claims range from an inmate who said the jail allowed Satan worshiping to a man who said he was denied medical care for speaking with journalists about abuses at the jail.


July 6: Inmate John Taylor settled his case for undisclosed terms after he claimed guards beat him while he was handcuffed, denied him medical treatment and then locked him in an isolation cell to cover up the assault. Taylor said the assault followed his spilling a cup of juice while sliding a meal tray through a narrow opening in his cell door.

July 6: Inmate Todd Cox settled his suit for $70,000. He says he was handcuffed, kicked, denied medical treatment and locked in isolation to cover up the assault.

July 6: The estate of George Overby settled for an undisclosed sum of money. Lawyers for Overby, who died in August 2004, claimed he was assaulted by guards while handcuffed at the jail in 2002. Overby, who used a wheelchair because of a spinal cord injury he received in 1996, also claimed the jail was not handicapped-accessible.

July 6: Roy Cobb settled for an undisclosed sum of money for his claims that guards took away his wheelchair, slammed his legs inside a cell door and refused to give him medical treatment following his arrest on July 30, 2003. He was arrested on an assault charge, accused of hitting his wife's boyfriend with a crutch.

July 6: Benjamin Morris settled for an undisclosed sum on his claims that guards didn't prevent other inmates from attacking him because he was a convicted child molester.


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