A former female inmate of Sumner County Jail alleges she was the victim of an attempted sexual assault while incarcerated, a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court for Middle Tennessee contends.
In the suit, filed by the former inmate against Richard Dillard, a Sumner County Sheriff's Department deputy, Sumner County Sheriff Bob Barker and Sumner County, the inmate says she was the victim of advances from Deputy Dillard beginning with her incarceration starting Sept. 5, 2008.
The suit hits a sheriff's department with a recent history of misconduct between deputies and prisoners.
According to the filings, on Sept. 5, while the alleged victim was working in the jail's kitchen preparing breakfast, Dillard made a call to the kitchen and asked the plaintiff “come alone and bring breakfast to him in the control room.”
Taking another inmate with her, the victim delivered the meal and left. A few minutes later, Dillard called the kitchen again and said he had spilled his breakfast and wanted the plaintiff to return to clean up the mess, the suit alleges.
Upon her return to the control room, the victim claims Dillard seized her, “forcefully stuck his tongue into Plaintiff's mouth, and grabbed Plaintiff's crotch,” the suit says. The woman struggled free and escaped.
Following the incident, “Deputy Dillard, other jailers and staff spread false rumors that Plaintiff and Deputy Dillard were having a sexual relationship and that Plaintiff was pregnant by Deputy Dillard.”
When the victim complained to the other jailers about Dillard's advances, allegedly nothing was done.
The lawsuit contends that the victim's civil rights were violated with the assault, and that the sheriff and Sumner County were complicit because they “should have known of the propensity of Deputy Dillard to violate Plaintiff's civil rights.”
When reached for comment Tuesday, Sheriff Bob Barker said he could not comment on the pending lawsuit nor could he comment on whether or not Deputy Dillard remained on active duty.
Sumner County's law director, Leah May Dennen, also declined to comment, as did the attorney for the plaintiff, Aaron S. Guin of Honeycutt, Guin & Hooper.
This summer County Corrections Officer Joshua Woodard was arrested and fired for training a security camera on two showering female inmates. In the summer of 2008, Corrections Officer Elvis Wade was fired and arrested for allegedly groping two female inmates and attempting to bribe them to remain quiet.