Thursday, February 20, 2014
A lawsuit filed against Georgetown County Sheriff Lane Cribb by two females who were sexually assaulted by a Detention Center guard while they were inmates will be heard in Circuit Court next week.
The Detention Center is operated by the Sheriff’s Office.
Former jail guard Belvin Lee Sherrill was arrested in 2009, charged with three counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct and misconduct in office. He later pled guilty to one count of criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
One of the three victims decided she did not want to be a part of the lawsuit.
The women - not being named by the Georgetown Times because they are sexual assault victims - say the incidents occurred at the jail in November 2009.
According to court documents, while Sherrill was in full uniform he entered the cell, exposed himself and ordered the women to “perform fellatio on him.” The suit says Sherrill later returned to the cell and ordered one of the women to perform the act a second time.
While the acts were taking place, the suit states, the three women in the cell were “repeatedly pushing the panic button” but it “apparently was not working.” The women say at no time did any other employee “intervene or take any actions to protect” the women from harm.
The following day, Sherrill slid a letter under the cell door apologizing for the incident, the suit states.
One of the victims was 19-years-old and in jail for driving under the influence at the time of the incident.
The suit accuses the sheriff of “lack of supervision and discipline” of Sherrill, an allegation Cribb denies.
In his answer to the suit, Cribb says “upon learning of the allegations” Sherrill “was immediately discharged.”
Cribb says he learned of the accusations on Dec. 13, 2009, and Sherrill “was terminated upon returning to work the following day.”
The two women say because of the assault they continue to suffer “severe mental anguish and emotional distress, including the fear of having been exposed to the HIV virus or other sexually transmitted disease.”
Even though he pled guilty during his hearing on the criminal charges, Sherrill - in his answer to the lawsuit - denies committing the acts. In the document, Sherrill states if the women had not committed crimes, they would not have been in jail and “would not have had the opportunity to know (he) existed on the earth.”
Sherrill also says one of the women “did flash her breasts” at him as he was walking by the cell.
He also claims both women tried to coerce him into bringing them cigarettes and when he refused to do so they made the allegations against him.
The suit asks for compensatory damages “in an appropriate amount” as well as “punitive damages.”
They are also asking for their attorney fees to be paid and any other awards the court deems just and proper.
The women are being represented by attorneys Ed Bell, Henry Oxner and Turner Perrow. Cribb is represented by Robin Jackson and Sandra Senn.
Bell said he expects the trial will last four days.