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$345,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania Jail Rape Suit

$345,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania
Jail Rape Suit

On September 11, 2002, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, agreed to settle a federal lawsuit brought by seven female county jail prisoners who were raped by male jail staff by paying them $345,000. The rape of female prisoners at the facility had been well documented going back to 1989. Earlier in 2002, guards Robert Gilmore Jr., William McMullen, Jeffrey Budd and counselor Peter Doyle were all convicted in state court of raping the plaintiffs. The guards received house arrest or probation while Doyle was sentenced to prison.

The prisoner victims filed a civil rights lawsuit seeking damages for the rapes. In the settlement, each of the seven plaintiffs will receive $35,000 and their attorneys will receive $100,000 in fees. In addition to claiming constitutional violations for the rapes, one of the plaintiffs also claimed she was retaliated against by the defendants after assisting the prosecutor's office with the investigation of the rapist guards.

Bucks County denied it was responsible for the rapes, instead claiming they were personal actions by the guards. County attorney Guy Matthews claimed the county settled only because the cost of going to trial would be higher. The prisoners claimed the rapes were a pattern and practice known and tolerated by county officials and thus the county was liable. The $345,000 settlement will be paid by the county, which is self insured. The plaintiffs were represented by attorneys Anita Alberts and Martha Sperling.

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