In 2013, corrections officer Xavier Thicklen was charged with several counts of sexual assault for repeatedly raping a woman held in Milwaukee County Jail. In 2014, the charges were dropped in exchange for a plea to “felony misconduct in public office.” This Wednesday, his victim was awarded $6.7 million in a civil lawsuit against Milwaukee County.
The woman’s case is one of many at Milwaukee County Jail, which is run by Sheriff David Clarke, a huge supporter of Donald Trump who has reportedly accepted an appointment as assistant secretary in the US Department of Homeland Security. Tales of abuse in his jails are rampant. The story of Terrill Thomas, a man held in solitary confinement without water for seven days, recently gained increased media attention, as Thomas’s family is seeking justice for his death in court.
The Journal-Sentinel reports that “Jane Doe” testified that Thicklen raped her in different locations throughout the jail, and said she still has nightmares about the experience. She was 19 at the time of her incarceration, and pregnant.
“He used his keys, his power, his authority to get in these places and rape me,” she told the jury.
Doe went into labor while in jail and was taken to a hospital, where she was shackled to the bed. She alleged that she wasn’t allowed to change positions more than a few times during her labor, nor were the rails removed when she was finally allowed to hold her daughter. Fox News 6 reports that the jury decided she’d received no permanent harm from the shackles but allowed that they “had no legitimate non-punitive governmental purpose.”
The money added up to $1.7 million to “fairly and reasonably compensate” her for the harm sustained during the assaults, and $5 million in punitive damages. The Washington Post reports that under his plea deal, Thicklen served three days and paid a fine of $200. The County will likely appeal the jury’s verdict.