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Defenders sue Cook County over sex abuse from inmates

Wednesday, November 08, 2017
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
by David Thomas

Defenders sue Cook County over sex abuse from inmates

By David Thomas
Law Bulletin staff writer

Six Cook County Public Defender employees on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against their employer and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office for not cracking down on the allegedly rampant sexual abuse they experience from the inmates in the county jail.

The lawsuit filed by Assistant Public Defenders Crystal Brown, Saran Crayton, Samantha Slonim, Celeste Addyman, Erika Knierim and Julie Hull says they — and others — frequently encounter Cook County Jail detainees who “have repeatedly exposed their penises, masturbated, and engaged in other acts of sex-based aggression, verbal threats and harassment, and on an almost daily basis.”

The plaintiffs allege the defendants — Cook County, Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli and her office, and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart — have subjected them to discriminatory treatment by subjecting them to this harassment, and not correcting it, for more than two years.

The plaintiffs allege that only female public defenders experience this sexual aggression from inmates; many of their male colleagues do not experience this kind of harassment.

The plaintiffs hope to certify their lawsuit as a class action, alleging more than 200 assistant public defenders and law clerks have been subject to these abuses over the last two years.

The case is Crystal Brown, et al. v. Cook County, No. 17 CV 8085.



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