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Sexual Assault Victim Awarded $1.5 Million in Lawsuit against Illinois Prison Guard

A longtime Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) guard was ordered to pay $1.5 million to a female prisoner he had raped, though he did not face criminal charges for the assault.

Timothy Ware, 40, a former guard at the Decatur Correctional Center (DCC), sexually assaulted 25-year-old prisoner Ashley Robinson in a supply closet. Although it was a brutal rape, Robinson showered and washed away the evidence, and initially decided not to report what had happened. She was concerned that reporting the incident would lead to retaliation and more time in prison.

Attorneys Louis Meyer and Dan Kiss convinced Robinson to file a civil lawsuit against Ware, the IDOC, the warden at DCC and another prison guard in February 2013. She was vindicated when a federal jury returned a verdict on March 17, 2016.

“We the jury, find in favor of the Plaintiff against the Defendant, Timothy Ware, and award compensatory damages of $500,000, and punitive damages of $1 million,” announced U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce, who read the verdict in open court. [See: PLN, May 2016, p.63]. The jury also rejected Ware’s counter-claim, in which he accused Robinson of defamation and causing him emotional distress.

Attorneys Meyer and Kiss were happy with the verdict but less enthusiastic that the jury did not find the IDOC or other prison officials liable.

“We’re very pleased that the jury found Tim Ware guilty and was very fair in the reward to [Robinson],” Kiss said. “We felt that we had proved the current IDOC defendants were deliberately indifferent to the safety of [Robinson]. But we respect the jury’s decision.”

As previously reported in Prison Legal News, Ware also faced criminal charges related to his inappropriate conduct with other female prisoners. [See: PLN, Jan. 2014, p.56]. In December 2015, prior to the conclusion of Robinson’s lawsuit, Ware was found guilty on seven felony counts for soliciting the phone numbers of female prisoners and parolees, contacting them and then lying to investigators.

The former guard received a sentence of 30 days in jail on those charges, followed by two-and-a-half years of probation plus 50 hours of community service.

Ware did not face charges for raping Robinson, though it is unclear why. However, she testified at his sentencing on the other charges. Asked about the $1.5 million verdict against Ware, Robinson said, “He might not be criminally charged, but at least everyone knows from a jury that it happened.”

Ware was also ordered to pay $3,625.43 in costs, while Robinson was required to pay $791.80 in costs to the other defendants who prevailed at trial. In June 2016, Ware appealed the district court’s denial of his post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law. See: Robinson v. Hansbro, U.S.D.C. (C.D. Ill.), Case No. 2:13-cv-02039-CSB-EIL.

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Related legal case

Robinson v. Hansbro