Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SC - Women awarded $350,000 in jail sexual assault (Belvin Lee Sherrill) lawsuit

Belvin Lee Sherrill
Belvin Lee Sherrill
Original Article


By Scott Harper

A pool of potential jurors were at the Georgetown County Courthouse Monday for a lawsuit filed against Sheriff Lane Cribb by two women who were sexually assaulted by a guard at the County Detention Center while they were incarcerated in 2009.

But, before the jury pool was narrowed to the ones who would hear the case, a settlement was reached.

One of the women was awarded $100,000 in the agreement while the other will receive $50,000.

There was a third woman who was 19-years-old at the time and was in the cell. She was also assaulted by the guard, Belvin Lee Sherrill. She filed a separate lawsuit in Federal Court and was awarded $200,000. The women are not being named by the Georgetown Times because they are victims of sexual assault.

Sherrill was arrested and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He is now out of prison and is living in North Carolina.

Sherrill did not show up for what was scheduled to be a trial this week, said defense attorney Robin Jackson.

After the settlement was reached, Cribb said he was glad for the women and for his office that the matter can be put to rest.

This was a horrible thing that happened to these women,” Cribb said after the settlement was announced.

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.

Bell said Monday during the investigation letters were found that Sherrill had written to other female inmates.

Cribb said he takes the safety and protection of the inmates very seriously.

That is why we have such a vigorous application process in place. Applicants for detention officers at that time were required to have a criminal background check, a financial check, a polygraph and a psychological exam. In addition they were interviewed by several members of command staff,” Cribb said. “Sherrill gave no indications of any problems during the application process, or during his employment, until he committed this act. As soon as it was discovered, Sherrill was terminated, prosecuted and is now a registered sex offender. I did not put up with such acts from my staff then, and I will not put up with it now.”

As for the buzzer that did not work in the women’s cell, Jackson said it was a computer problem that was fixed and continues to work.

Bell, when putting the settlement information on the court record, said there was no truth to statements made by Sherrill in his answer to the lawsuit. As reported previously. Sherrill claimed 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 Sheriff had nothing to do with (Sherrill’s) answer,” Jackson added. “The sheriff was upset when he heard someone took advantage of inmates.”

Circuit Court Judge Edward Cottingham agreed, calling Sherrill’s claims “ridiculous.”


Mark said...

Oh, the things that happen behind the wall, they play and play, then they fall, when they fall, they have to deal with the law.

Mark said...

"According to McHose's office, "The measure, A-892 (PDF),
imposes a mandatory prison term of 25 years to life without possibility
of parole for at least 25 years for persons convicted of aggravated
sexual assault against a child under the age of 13. Parole ineligibility
may be extended beyond the minimum 25 years if the convicted sex
offender has been convicted of other crimes. In addition, if a victim is
unable to testify, a prosecutor would be permitted to negotiate a plea
agreement for a prison term of at least 15 years without parole.” Yet another legislative device to usurp the judicial function by "legislative sentencing." There are always mitigating factors in any sentencing scheme but when this piece of oppression gets enacted, this will take away any discretion by the judiciary. Another victory for the folks in N.J.

Mark said...

"These people need to be monitored all the time," he said. No
argument there. Doubtless, getting the system to function at a 100
percent success rate is a very tough challenge. Failing to do so,
however, merely invites tragedy." Hey Mr. Tomilinson, please show the world all of the statistics that halt, inhibit deter sex crimes by a sexual offender registering. Please also exhibit all of the statistics that demonstrate any/all of the consequences of having to register. You know, no residence, loss of jobs, scourging from everyone, false allegations, cannot go anywhere, cannot have a relationship; demonstrate for us, the ubiquitous, you and other hypocrites in high office the mind set that dreams up laws like the one you want to eagerly pass. I suspect if this piece of trash gets passed sir, your back will become extremely sore from being hit too much.

dlc said...

Does money for housing these "dangerous felons" come with this law? Where is the money going to come from? Are they going to "steal" it from other needed services?

Sex Offender Issues said...

I think you know where the money comes from. The tax payers.

dlc said...

Yeah, I do. Just trying to get others to connect the dots...

Anonymous said...

Jessica's Law makes defendants far more likely to take the case to trial (who's going to take a 25 year plea bargain), which those forces the victims to testify at trial and exposes the victim to further harm. Also, a 25 year minimum makes it a lot harder to convince a jury to convict. And lastly, what child is going to want to think that they put daddy in jail for 25 years. I guess the New Jersey bill allows a 15 year minimum if the victim is unable to testify, but in most cases the victim probably would probably be able to testify- it would just be very hard for them to do so. And, some prosecutors may just force the victim to testify anyway (regardless of how hard it may be for them). It's usually been shown that the sex offender registry itself makes it less likely sex crime victims will report the crimes, less likely that the defendant will take a plea deal (thus sparing a rape victim from having to talk about the experience at trial) and less likely that the jury will convict the defendant on trial. The same is true of Jessica's Law.