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$155,000 Settlement in Sexual Assault of Washington Jail Prisoner

$155,000 Settlement in Sexual Assault of Washington Jail Prisoner

Washington State’s King County Jail has paid $155,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a female prisoner who was sexually assaulted by two guards.

While imprisoned at the Jail between August 25, 2004 and April 1, 2005, prisoner Jennifer Christina Vermeulen became an object of interest to guards Cedric McGrew and Louis G. Laurencio. Shortly after her arrival at the jail, McGrew began asking Vermeulen about her breasts. He offered to give her illegal drugs and alcohol if she would perform sexual acts for him. Laurencio repeatedly made sexual advances to her.

As Vermeulen was cleaning the isolated area of the Jail’s yard on March 16, 2005, Laurencio approached her to show a picture of his penis with a naked woman in it. He asked Vermeulen to allow him to take a picture of her breasts. When she lifted up her jail shirt, he took a picture.

Laurencio then told her that he wanted to have sex with her. He pushed Vermeulen against the wall and put his hand down her pants to touch her vagina. Shortly after Laurencio left Vermeulen standing there, McGrew appeared to ask when she was going to have sex with him. He told her to go to the recreation room when she was done cleaning.

When she arrived at the room, McGrew told her to sit in a chair. He pulled his penis out and put it in her mouth. While McGrew and Laurencio were at their antics, they took turns covering each other from the control room.

Shortly after the incident, Vermeulen was transferred to the state prison in Purdy. The incident came to the attention of King County officials when prisoner Shana Zutter informed a guard at the Jail. That began an investigation that resulted in Vermeulen being brought back to the Jail for a fake court hearing. She had agreed to wear a recording device while Laurencio and McGrew escorted her. They confirmed the sexual misconduct and the picture-taking.

Immediately thereafter, both were placed on leave. They both were charged and pled guilty to Custodial Sexual Misconduct in the Second Degree, a misdemeanor. Vermeulen filed a civil rights complaint in State Court.

On February 5, 2009, King County paid her $155,000 to settle the claim. She was represented by Tukwila attorney John Kannin. Documents related to this case are available on PLN’s website. See: J.V. v. Laurencio, King County Superior Court, Case No: 07-2-27495-2-SEA.

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Related legal case

J.V. v. Laurencio