- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Supreme Court has again ruled that the state Regional Jail Authority cannot be held liable in a lawsuit that alleged a male correctional officer repeatedly raped a female inmate.

The Charleston Gazette reports (https://bit.ly/1G6aAKS) that justices made a similar ruling in March but agreed to reconsider its decision after outrage from state and national organizations.

The court says the authority is entitled to immunity because the woman, identified only as “A.B.”, failed to provide any evidence that the officer’s alleged actions occurred within the scope of his employment.

The ruling came in a lawsuit, filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court, against the authority and the officer, identified only as “D.H.,” as defendants. The lawsuit claimed the authority was negligent in training, supervision and retention of the officer.

The lawsuit alleged that the officer raped the woman 17 times while she was an inmate at the Southern Regional Jail in 2009. She was transferred to Lakin Correction Center in April 2010 to serve the remainder of her sentence.

“We take this opportunity on rehearing to make plain our concern over the seriousness of the allegations contained herein,” Justice Margaret Workman wrote in Friday’s decision. “To whatever extent this opinion or our prior opinion is characterized as suggesting that this court is not mindful of the pervasiveness and gravity of the issue of prison sexual assault, such a characterization is at best patently incorrect. … However, this court is constrained to the faithful application of the law.”

Chief Justice Robin Davis dissented from Friday’s decision, as she did in the original March decision, writing Friday that her colleagues had a “golden opportunity … to correct a grave injustice done to the victim and to our law on governmental immunity. … Unfortunately, the majority instead chose to ignore the reality of the injustice it has unleashed.”


Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com



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