Aug. 15—CLARK COUNTY — A press conference called by the 9th District Democratic Party of Indiana on Monday morning was to address the accusations of a lawsuit alleging a "night of terror" at the Clark County jail.
In response, Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel commented publicly on the case. He told the News and Tribune on Monday that more information about the night of the alleged incident is coming soon.
"The lawsuit filed and recent comments from my political opponents contain more false statements and incorrect information than I can count," Noel said. "Despite the ongoing lawsuit, I've told my staff that we're going to bring transparency to this incident and show the community precisely what happened and what we learned from our joint investigation with the FBI and U.S. Marshals. In the coming days, we'll bust those myths and show the community the truth and the evidence showing what happened during the 50-minute incident on Oct. 24, 2021."
Noel also said he urges any victims of sexual assault from that incident to come forward.
"Sexual assault is evil and my office will always do everything we can to prosecute those who prey on women," Noel said. "But right now, there's not a single woman who maintains to investigators that she was sexually assaulted by male inmates on Oct. 24, 2021. Audio and video evidence that will come to light soon also doesn't show any kind of assault.
"If any woman was assaulted, we beg them to cooperate with us and actually talk to investigators so we investigate any wrongdoing."
The comments followed Monday's press conference where 28 women were in attendance, each of them holding up a number to represent the plaintiffs who filed the civil lawsuit. The women in attendance were not plaintiffs in the case.
The Clark County Democratic Party called for an outside investigation and outside prosecutor to come in and examine the case.
Twenty-eight women have filed a federal lawsuit against Clark County officials. The suit alleges they were victims of harassment and sexual crimes, including rape, after male inmates gained access to their jail pods.
According to the lawsuit after male inmates gained access to the female pods via the key, they "threatened, assaulted and raped" the plaintiffs over a span of multiple hours, attorneys state in the court records. Attorneys accuse the defendants of being accountable for the "horrific physical and psychological injuries" the women suffered as a result of the alleged attacks.
Former Clark County Corrections Officer, David Lowe, is accused of selling the key to the area for females for $1,000 to a male inmate. He's scheduled for trial in November. No one else has been charged criminally in the case.
"Self-harm, substance abuse, panic attacks, fear and suicide are the results of many sexual assaults," said Linda Lawson, vice chair of the Indiana Democratic Party's 9th District. "Secondly, it is my experience that other departments should never investigate their own officers and incidents that occur in their departments."
Clark County Democratic Party Chairman Chris Coyle said the party is calling for an independent investigation of the incident and asking for county commissioners and executives to support them in this effort. He said the party would like to see Noel, Chief Deputy Scottie Maples, both Republicans, and the Clark County jail commander resign.
Maples is running for Clark County sheriff this year as Noel can't seek re-election due to consecutive term limits.
"We do not expect these" resignations to occur, Coyle said. "We have filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Justice and expect to be hearing back from that shortly."
Local activist Barb Anderson was one of the women who represented the plaintiffs by holding up a number during the press conference.
"What happened here shouldn't happen in any jail in America, period," she said.
Noel's attorney Larry Wilder said after the press conference that the alleged incident didn't occur and that he has a recording to prove it.
"No one standing across the street (at the courthouse) has had the opportunity to view the entire 24 hours of security camera video," Wilder said, holding up what he said was the recording. "The FBI has this, because the sheriff's department gave it to them. The U.S. Marshals have this because the sheriff's department gave it to them. The Clark County prosecutor has it because the sheriff's department gave it to him."
Wilder said the accusations are politically motivated. He said the recording contains 44 interviews about the alleged incidents that took place.
The News and Tribune asked the Clark County Sheriff's Office for a copy of the recording but was denied with officials citing ongoing litigation.