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$242,500 Settles Jail Rape Suit in Okla.

On May 24, 2017, Tulsa County officials paid $242,500 to resolve a federal complaint filed by a woman who was reportedly raped by a male prisoner while she was held at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Aleshia Cyrese Henderson, 20, was suffering from mental health issues when she was incarcerated at the jail in September 2011. She began experiencing chest pains and was shackled and taken to the “tub room” in the medical unit. Once there, she was left alone in the unlocked room while guards and medical staff, who were employed by Correctional Healthcare Management of Oklahoma (CHMO), responded to a problem in another part of the jail.

Prisoner Jessie Earl Johnson was working as a trusty, roaming freely without escort or supervision in the medical unit. He opened the unlocked door to the tub room, which was not under video surveillance, and allegedly raped the still-shackled Henderson.

Johnson was initially charged with first-degree rape, but the charges were dropped about a year later – possibly because Henderson had briefly recanted, saying she feared for the safety of her mother. Nonetheless, a county official said he believed she had been raped.

With the assistance of Tulsa attorneys Louis W. Bullock and Daniel E. Smolen, Henderson filed a federal civil rights suit against then-Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz, jail personnel, CHMO and CHMO employees. The complaint alleged inadequate training, understaffing and negligence led to the easily preventable rape. CHMO entered into a confidential settlement with Henderson in November 2012, while the Tenth Circuit reversed an interlocutory appeal of the district court’s denial of qualified immunity to two of the county defendants in 2015. [See: PLN, March 2017, p.42].

Following a settlement conference held a few weeks before a trial was scheduled to begin, the county defendants agreed to settle the case for $242,500.

See: Henderson v. Glanz, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Okla.), Case No. 4:12-cv-00068-JED-FHM. 

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Related legal case

Henderson v. Glanz