Jail Denied Meds and Allowed Rape, Woman Claims

CINCINNATI (CN) – A former inmate claims she was incapacitated by seizures and repeatedly raped by corrections officers after an Ohio jail refused to provide her with prescription medications to treat her epilepsy.

The graphic complaint, filed Friday in Cincinnati federal court, details the woman’s imprisonment: “The conditions of confinement in her cell were horrific: she was raped, her shoulder was shattered, she was left naked, covered in her blood and feces, without access to running water, forced to drink out of the toilet, and on at least one occasion tased. She was so desperate for help she attempted to write on the cell wall, in her own blood, ‘God, please help me.’”

Cheryl Luke says she turned herself in to the Warren County Police Department on May 3, 2013, on an outstanding drug warrant, and was then jailed without bond.

Upon intake, the lawsuit says Luke “informed … medical screeners of her diagnoses, including epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, battered woman syndrome, and depression. She explained … that she was taking Lyrica for her epilepsy and she had the prescription bottle with her.”

Luke claims she was denied her medication, and immediately developed “pre-seizure symptoms such as confusion, inability to focus, staring, tunnel vision, déjà vu, and difficulty speaking.”

Five days after her incarceration, Luke was visited by her attorney’s paralegal.

“During Ms. Luke’s ‘visit’ with the paralegal, she was rigid, staring blanking [sic] straight ahead, unblinking and could not walk. A black male and a white female corrections officer carried her to the visiting chair and forced her into a seated position,” the complaint states. “She appeared to be having a seizure in front of the paralegal. Ms. Luke was unresponsive. The male officer pried her clenched fingers apart and wrapped them around the visitor phone and raised the phone to her head. Ms. Luke was unable to communicate.”

Less than two weeks after her admission to the jail, Luke says she “decompensated [sic] to the point she had become catatonic and psychotic. She was suicidal. She was left naked in her cell. She was crying uncontrollably … On the morning of May 14, Ms. Luke was found naked in her cell, crying and mumbling.”

Luke also claims she was raped multiple times by at least one of the corrections officers.

“During one sexual assault the officers used so much blunt force on her shoulder that the bone shattered,” the lawsuit states.

A urinalysis performed at a hospital on May 10 revealed semen in her urine, according to the complaint, which she says could not have come from her fiancé, who had a vasectomy years earlier.

When the Warren County Jail learned of the sexual assault allegations, Luke claims they failed to collect any forensic evidence from her cell, and instead “disposed of Ms. Luke’s plastic mattress … [and] forged Ms. Luke’s name on a medical release form to obtain her medical records by deception.”

Although the FBI eventually conducted an investigation, the lawsuit says much of the forensic evidence was destroyed by the time the agency became involved.

According to the complaint, the jail eventually transferred Luke to Summit Behavioral Healthcare, which released her on July 11, 2013.

All of the defendants in the case are individuals, and include Krys Lambert RN, Andy Eby LPN, Jennifer Shockley LPN, Beverly Perkins LPN, Rashell Brickler LPN, Val Randolph LPN, Amanda Lacon LPN, Sgt. David Johnson and a John Doe corrections officer.

Luke seeks compensatory and punitive damages for claims of civil rights violations, battery and invasion of privacy. She is represented by Jennifer Branch of Gerhardstein and Branch in Cincinnati.

Barry K. Riley, chief deputy for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, said the office does not comment on pending litigation and believes “strongly in pursing legal matters through the courts, not the media.”

“However, none of the citizens of Warren County should take our silence about the lawsuit filed by one of our former inmates as an indication that there is any truth to her allegations,” Riley said in a statement. “We look forward to defending this case to a conclusion.”