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Ohio County Jail Settles Sex Suit for $30,000

On September 14, 2006, Medina County, Ohio agreed to settle a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit by a woman who claimed that she was sexually exploited by guards.

Tammy DeCosta sued Medina County after Kathy Hastings, a guard at the Medina County Jail, allegedly sexually abused DeCosta during DeCosta’s two-and-a-half month stay at the jail.
According to DeCosta’s complaint, Hastings would constantly harass and flirt with her. Hastings would bring DeCosta snacks, leave her love notes, conduct inappropriate “pat downs,” watch DeCosta shower and “kiss, touch, and fondle” her.

When DeCosta told Hastings to stop, Hastings allegedly told DeCosta that she “could do whatever she wanted to [her] and that no one would listen to her when she reported it.”
Hastings’ behavior was allegedly observed by other guards, but was not reported. Instead, the guards “acknowledg[ed], discuss[ed], ratifi[ed], laugh[ed], and jok[ed] about the inappropriate behavior in front of …DeCosta and other [prisoners],” DeCosta’s complaint states.

This behavior created “a culture of routine acceptance of sexual innuendo and sexual abuse,” according to DeCosta. DeCosta claimed supervisory liability against the Sheriff of Medina County, Neil Hassinger, on the basis that he was “grossly negligent” in managing his subordinates. DeCosta sought monetary damages for bodily injury, pain and suffering, humiliation, loss of dignity, stress and extreme emotional anguish.

Medina County agreed to settle the case for $30,000. Medina County denied all wrongdoing in settling the case. DeCosta was represented by Karen Brouse of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. See: DeCosta v. Medina County, No. 1:04-CV-1118 (N.D. Ohio 2006).

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Related legal case

DeCosta v. Medina County