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$ 14 million payout ends prison masturbation class action suit

CHICAGO – The Cook County Board of Directors has signed a $ 14 million payment to settle a class action lawsuit filed by a group of female assistant public defenders who alleged county officials did not protect them from “heinous sexual misconduct” by male detainees in Cook County Jail almost daily.

County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to approve the settlement in Brown et al. v. Cook County et al., which concludes a case brought more than three years earlier by a group of six female attorneys in the Cook County Public Defender’s Office.

The half-dozen longtime public defenders alleged masturbation, obscene exposure and threats were rampant. According to the complaint, in the complaint, inmates in prison, physically assaulted or emitted body fluids seized on their female lawyers.

According to the trial, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, public defender Amy Campenelli and other county officials encouraged the inmates to “carry out an ongoing campaign of sexual assault, obscene exposure and masturbation incidents on women. [assistant public defenders], including by their passivity and rewarding prisoners with ̵

6;pizzas’ for good behavior after masturbation incidents. ”

The complaint alleged that prisoners who went 30 days without masturbating in front of their lawyers were entitled to pizza provided by the sheriff’s office.

Cara Smith, Dart’s chief political adviser at the time, vehemently denied the public defender’s pizza program, calling it “absurd and a lie.”

Within three weeks of filing the federal class action lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly issued an injunction ordering the sheriff’s office to require prisoners to wear a special jumpsuit that restricts their hands at the first report of any obscene exposure.

Kennelly also ordered all detainees with reported incidents of misconduct to remain handcuffed with their hands behind their backs.

“[T]he detained sexual assaults significantly decreased after the implementation of these remedial measures, and the number of reported incidents dropped dramatically after January 2018, “according to lawyers for the public defenders.

The judge also noted that the evidence he had seen showed that the pizza party described by the public defenders was “unauthorized and in fact opposed to prison policy; it was neither funded by the sheriff’s office nor approved by it.”

About $ 9.5 million of the money will be distributed to more than 530 women. The attorneys and claims administrator must receive 30 percent of the settlement fund – $ 4.2 million, according to Kennelly’s order to approve the settlement.

Each lead plaintiff mentioned in the case receives an additional $ 25,000, those who gave deposits $ 15,000, $ 10,000 for those who answered questions under oath but were not fired, and $ 5,000 for those who assisted and handed in the oath. testimony.

According to suit and previous reports, a prison gang called Savage Life had driven the increase in sexual aggression against lawyers in prison. The gang awards prisons “points” for each incident of masturbation or assault, depending on how serious it is and which lawyer is targeted, the case claimed.

Savage Life, mostly members of various street gangs facing long prison sentences, has in recent years been accused of throwing feces and urine, attacking guards and taking hostages in jail.

Two days after public defenders filed their complaint and request for certification of class action lawsuits, a group of female guards at Cook County Jail also filed a federal lawsuit.

To complaint, who remain pending, claimed that guards were routinely groped and grabbed, with a “confronted with an entire level of detainees with their penises thrust through the ‘hole holes’ in their cell doors.”

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