Twenty-eight incarcerated women have sued Clark County, Indiana, officials, alleging that they gave two male inmates the keys to the women’s cells in exchange for a $1,000 bribe. The News and Tribune reports that group of male detainees then allegedly used those keys to rape, harass and abuse the women on October 23, 2021, in what the women’s attorneys describe as a “night of terror.”
This month, eight more women joined the initial lawsuit that was filed by 20 women in June against Clark County corrections officer David J. Lowe, Sheriff Jamey Noel, and other “unknown” jail officers. The incarcerated men, “who covered their faces so they could not be identified, were yelling and threatening to harm the women if they called for help or pressed the emergency call button,” according to the lawsuit, which alleges that at least two women were raped that night.
“Women were harassed, sexually assaulted, threatened and completely terrified,” attorney Bart Betteau told WTHR. “When I met with each and every one of these women, and they broke down repeatedly, you get the impression, the understanding of what these women went through.”
Jail officials then retaliated against the women for speaking up by leaving the lights on for three straight days, “denying them normal privileges and confiscating pillows, blankets and hygiene items,” according to the lawsuit.
Lowe, 29, was arrested in October immediately after the incident happened after admitting to taking the bribe:
According to a probable cause affidavit, Lowe told a sheriff’s department investigator he agreed to the deal with an inmate on Oct. 23. Lowe said he propped open a door in one the jail’s pods that leads to a secure area. Police said a review of video footage revealed Lowe entering a pod with a blood pressure cart, “acting like he was taking a blood pressure reading from an inmate deep inside the pod area, with his back to the main door” that Lowe left propped open.
While Lowe’s back was turned, two inmates began searching for and removing items from the pod office and concealing them under their clothing, the affidavit said.
After his rights were read to him, police said Lowe admitted he “intentionally placed himself deep into the pod with his back to the door to allow inmates access to the open pod doors.” Once inside the pod office, inmates removed keys allowing access to parts of the jail, along with other unknown items, according to the affidavit.
Lowe was charged with trafficking with an inmate, aiding escape and official misconduct—two felonies and a misdemeanor. The Clark County Sheriff’s Department has not commented on the lawsuits.