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$6.5 Million Jury Award in Oklahoma Jail Rape Lawsuit

by Matt Clarke

A federal jury awarded an Oklahoma woman $6.5 million after she was sexually assaulted by a Hollis, Oklahoma assistant police chief while held at the Harmon County jail.

Tiffany Ann Glover, 33, filed a federal civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Harmon County Sheriff Joe Johnson, Hollis Police Chief David Leathers, former Assistant Police Chief Jayson Vest and the City of Hollis, alleging Vest sexually assaulted her while she was a prisoner at the jail.

Glover claimed Vest began sexually harassing her after he responded to a report of domestic abuse in which she was the victim. A few weeks later, he pulled in behind her as she parked at her grandmother’s home, came up to her car and asked her out on a date. When she refused, he allegedly retaliated by arresting her for driving under the influence and possession of paraphernalia. Glover was taken to the jail – which is staffed by members of the Hollis Police Department and Harmon County Sheriff’s Department – and booked into the facility.

Glover said she reported repeated sexual harassment by Vest to jail staff and even the sheriff during more than a month of incarceration. The sheriff denied receiving any such reports.

Vest sexually assaulted Glover in Leathers’ office at the jail; he was convicted of second-degree rape and forcible sodomy in June 2013, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Following his conviction the criminal charges against Glover were dropped.

All of the defendants except Sheriff Johnson – who had been the sheriff of Harmon County for over 20 years and was up for reelection – settled the case the week before trial.

The jury clearly disbelieved Johnson, awarding Glover $6.5 million on September 22, 2016. Since the lawsuit against Johnson was in his official capacity, the county will have to pay the award. Harmon County is only insured for $2 million, including attorney fees; therefore, taxpayers will have to foot the bill for $4.5 million plus fees.

In December 2016, the parties agreed to $512,687.50 in Glover’s attorney fees. The defendants appealed to the Tenth Circuit then withdrew their appeal in May 2017, apparently after reaching an agreement with respect to damages and fees.

“The jury isn’t allowed to send a message, but I think it did,” said Tulsa attorney John Gladd, one of Glover’s attorneys in the federal suit. “This sheriff knew he had a predator in the jail and he allowed free access, gave him the keys.”

Johnson remains sheriff in Harmon County. Glover was represented by the law firms of Atkinson Haskins Nellis Brittingham Gladd & Fiasco, Latham Nelson & Thomas, and Steidley & Neal. See: Glover v. Vest, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Okla.), Case No. 14-cv-00936-F.  


Additional source: The Oklahoman


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Related legal case

Glover v. Vest