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Jury Awards $40,000 to Transgender Prisoner Raped at Florida Jail

A Florida state court jury awarded $40,000 in a negligence action stemming from the rape of a male-to-female transgender pretrial detainee at the Orange County Jail (OCJ).

Donald Brown, also known as Tori Tyrelle, was being held at OCJ on theft charges in 2008. Tyrelle was initially placed in protective custody due to her sexual orientation, but jail officials determined after the initial assessment that she did not face an imminent threat of harm.

That decision resulted in Tyrelle’s placement in the facility’s general population. Her complaints about the move were denied. On December 8, 2008, Tyrelle was “attacked and anally and orally raped” by her cellmate, Josh Bailey.

Bailey initially denied having sexual contact with Tyrelle, but DNA evidence linked him to the assault. He was found guilty of sexual battery with physical force in April 2010, sentenced to 25 years in prison and designated a sex offender. At trial he asserted that he had consensual sex with Tyrelle, and alleged she made up the rape claim to file a civil lawsuit against Orange County.

Faced with Tyrelle’s negligence suit, county officials offered to settle the case for $100,000. That offer was rejected and the case proceeded to a four-day jury trial. Tyrelle’s arguments focused on the fact that OCJ had no policy for dealing with transgender prisoners prior to her rape.

The jury found in favor of Tyrelle, awarding her $30,000 for bodily injury and $10,000 for medical bills. Because the award was less than the pretrial settlement offer, OCJ attempted to seek reimbursement for litigation costs incurred after making the offer, which it claimed totaled $113,000. Tyrelle was represented by Orlando attorney Jeremy K. Markman, who informed PLN that the county paid the jury award plus interest but did not receive any reimbursement for its costs. See: D.B. v. Orange County, Florida, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court (FL), Case No. 2012-CA-19811-0.

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Related legal case

D.B. v. Orange County