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Texas County, Deputy Settle Sex Assault Case For $50,000

A woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a Kleberg County, Texas, sheriff's deputy has settled her civil rights lawsuit against the county and the deputy for $50,000.

On May 16, 2001, Sarah Jean Hernandez, 22, was arrested at a border patrol checkpoint in Sarita, Texas, for possession of marijuana. Kleberg County sheriff's deputy Robert Andrew Barbour was then dispatched to pick up Hernandez and transport her to a jail in Kingsvil1e, 40 miles away.

En route to the jail, Hernandez claimed, Barbour forced her to undress and photographed her topless and wearing only her panties. Barbour then refused to return her clothes until she agreed to meet him for sex. (Barbour was later convicted of tampering with physical evidence for throwing away the pictures.)

Later that night, after Hernandez posted bail, Barbour picked her up and took her to an isolated warehouse area. Barbour tried to digitally penetrate her vagina and forced her to perform oral sex, said Hernandez. Hernandez further alleged that Barbour demanded intercourse but relented when she told him she was menstruating.

In her 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit against Barbour and Kleberg County, Hernandez also claimed that Barbour teased her about her appearance and flirted with her at the checkpoint, that he denied her access to legal counsel, and that he interrogated her even though she invoked her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. As to the county, Hernandez alleged it lacked policies to protect female prisoners and failed to properly train and supervise its officers.

Hernandez claimed the incident caused her mental anguish and forced her to receive counseling. She sought compensatory and punitive damages.

The case settled on April 20, 2004, for $50,000. The settlement included guidelines to protect females in custody and also provided that employees who report sexual harassment will be protected from retaliation.

Of note, after the Hernandez incident, two other Kleberg County deputies allegedly sexually assaulted females in custody. One quit, the other was fired.

Hernandez was represented by Christopher John Gale and Mark Anthony Sanchez, both of the San Antonio, Texas, law firm Gale, Wilson & Sanchez. See: Hernandez v. Kleberg County, U.S.D.C. (S.D. TX), Case No. 03-cv-00143.

Source: VerdictSearch


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Related legal case

Hernandez v. Klegerg County