Female Inmates Claim Sexual Assault

Female inmates at the Choctaw County, Ala., Jail claim they have been victims of sexual assault while incarcerated.

A lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Choctaw County Circuit Court against the Choctaw County Sheriff's Department.

Plaintiffs claimed in court documents that female inmates were "subjected to nightly sexual assaults at the hand of a male inmate and with the complicity of the jailers".

A temporary settlement was reached Thursday after closed-door meetings between the two parties. Attorneys would not answer questions from this reporter.

An order of continuance was signed by Circuit Judge Gaines McCorquodale. Had the case gone to court Thursday morning in Butler, Circuit Judge D. P. Scurlock told Newscenter 11 that he would have recused himself. Scurlock said his wife is a cousin of Sheriff James Lovette, so he wanted to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

The order continues the case until further action by the court. Without admitting wrongdoing by his department, Sheriff Lovette agreed to immediately transfer plaintiff inmates to the Clarke County, Ala., Jail, Washington County Jail and the Alabama Department of Corrections. The judge's order also requires that the matter be submitted to an appropriate state agency for investigation of the allegations made by the inmates.

Family members of one of the female inmates said the victims were often assaulted more than once.

"Sometime last year when she went for the first time, and then sometime this week, it happened again," said Samha Gordon, daughter of one of the plaintiffs.

"I want them to move her some place else where she can go to sleep and get up and won't have to worry about someone standing up over her head and stuff," said Luessie Forrest, mother of a plaintiff.

According to family members, at least four or five other inmates have allegedly been involved in sexual assaults at the Choctaw County Jail.

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