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$1 Million Award for Two Women Sexually Assaulted by Florida Jail Guard

A Florida federal jury awarded $1 million to two women who were sexually assaulted by a guard at the Bay County Jail (BCJ).

Brandy Carnley and Virginia Lindsey alleged in a May 2017 civil rights complaint that they were forced into sex acts by guard Pedro Reyes. Both women were assigned to the jail’s laundry area. Reyes, 50, was not directly assigned to oversee laundry operations, but starting in September 2013 he began to visit the laundry area.

Reyes isolated individual female prisoners and ordered them to accompany him outside the area. He then walked them through several locked doors to a supply closet, and ordered the women to enter. He would follow them inside and lock the door. The complaint alleged he “would compel these female inmates to perform nonconsensual sexual acts.”

As BCJ was under video surveillance, other guards were aware of Reyes’ actions. His “pattern of predatory conduct occurred with great frequency, to the point where staff members began to refer to the chosen inmates as Reyes’ girls,” the complaint alleged. Lindsey claimed that Reyes gave her a sexually transmitted disease, and both Carnley and Lindsey contended they were forced to perform sex acts on Reyes in the supply closet on numerous occasions. Carnley preserved Reyes’ semen on a jail garment as proof.

The case went to a jury trial, which resulted in a verdict on February 26, 2018. The jurors found that BCJ’s warden knew or should have known about Reyes’ improper conduct, but failed to take corrective action. Carnley and Lindsey were each awarded $500,000 in damages; they were represented by Tallahassee attorneys Louis Jean-Baptiste, Jr. and Stephen G. Webster.

The defendants appealed the jury award on March 29, 2018. While the district court stayed the plaintiffs’ motion for attorney fees pending the outcome of the appeal, it taxed $4,057.17 in costs against the defendants in July 2018. See: Carnley v. Ford, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Fla.), Case No. 5:17-cv-00085. 

 

Related legal case

Carnley v. Ford