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Wisconsin County Pays $750,000 to Settle Jail Sex Abuse Suit

A woman who was sexually assaulted at a jail in Monroe County, Wisconsin has received $750,000 as part of a settlement in a federal civil rights case.

While awaiting trial on charges of felony battery of a police officer, Sherry Calhoun was repeatedly forced to perform oral sex on Lt. David Schaldach, a night shift supervisor at the Monroe County Jail (MCJ). Calhoun was especially vulnerable in comparison to other prisoners because she suffered from bipolar disorder and had been recommended for placement on suicide watch after losing custody of her children.

Schaldach threatened to hurt Calhoun if she revealed their sexual activity, and former Monroe County Sheriff Charles Amundson and former Undersheriff John Cram allegedly covered-up Schaldach’s misconduct.

Schaldach, who was allowed to retire from the jail, later pleaded no contest to misconduct in public office and was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison in July 2008.

Calhoun’s subsequent federal lawsuit was not the first involving Schaldach. In February 2007, Monroe County settled a suit filed on behalf of former MCJ prisoner Brenda Momborquette for $6.1 million. [See: PLN, Feb. 2008, p.40; June 2007, p.14].

Momborquette had told a jail nurse about Schaldach’s sexual abuse of Calhoun. When Schaldach became aware that Momborquette had reported him, he did not put her on suicide watch pursuant to a doctor’s orders, apparently hoping that she would commit suicide. Momborquette tried to hang herself but was resuscitated by other guards. She suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the suicide attempt.

Calhoun settled her suit against Monroe County for $750,000 in October 2009; she was represented by Michael Devanie of Devanie, Belzer & Schroeder, a LaCrosse, Wisconsin law firm. See: Calhoun v. Schaldach, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Wis.), Case No. 3:08-cv-00194-bbc.

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Related legal case

Calhoun v. Schaldach