Saturday, July 19, 2003

Inmates plead guilty to assault


Lawsuits filed against Ky. jail

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILLIAMSTOWN - Three Grant County jail inmates pleaded guilty this week for their roles in the sexual assault of an 18-year-old Pendleton County resident sent to jail for a traffic violation.

"With these latest guilty pleas ... I think it is time jail and county administrators step up to the plate and admit there have been mistakes," said the 18-year-old's attorney, Don Nageleisen of Covington. "They need to come forward and make the jail a safer place."

The teenager was locked up overnight with convicted felons who stripped him of his clothes, carried him to the shower, lathered him up with soap and forced him to perform oral sex.

Court documents contain statements from inmates who allege at least one guard said he was bringing them "fresh meat" shortly before transferring the teenager to the cell the night of Feb. 13.

A grand jury in March declined to indict any guards in connection with the sexual assault.

Victor Ray Zipp, 27, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison and a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to first-degree sodomy and fourth-degree assault.

Robert J. Tester, 29, was sentenced Friday to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to second-degree criminal attempt to assault and fourth-degree assault.

Alexander Brandon Castillo, 18, was also sentenced on Friday. He received 10 years in prison and a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to second-degree sodomy and fourth-degree assault.

The sentences call for Zipp and Castillo to register as sexual offenders when they are released.

In March the teenager became the first of five former inmates to file civil rights lawsuits against the jail and county in U.S. District Court in Covington. All are pending.

A common theme among the suits is that the inmates were assaulted by guards or fellow inmates and not given adequate medical care for injuries.

On Tuesday, the former nurse at the jail, who is named as a defendant in four of the five suits, filed her own suit against the jail.

Sandra Cook, 48, of Williamstown claims she was fired for reporting suspected violations of federal and state laws at the 300-bed facility that serves both Grant and Pendleton counties.

The allegations have prompted Pendleton Fiscal Court to launch an investigation into the jail. The U.S. Justice Department has been gathering information on the jail for what appears to be a pending investigation.

"Not everyone that goes to jail has been found guilty, yet they are being terrorized in this jail," said Nageleisen, who is representing four of the people suing the jail.

"These people should not be in the same cell with convicted felons. You don't stick an 18-year-old boy in a cell with convicted felons."

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com




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