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$300,000 Award for Illinois Prisoner in Sexual Assault Claim

The court’s September 29, 2020, order was issued following a damages bench trial. The lawsuit was filed by Illinois prisoner Donald Quickle. He was represented by Julie Bauer and Neha Nigam of the law firm of Winston & Strawn.

Quickle alleged that while at the Pontiac Correctional Center food supervisor Sherri Lasek, over a period of six months, repeatedly demanded he have sexual intercourse with her and that he let her perform oral sex upon him. According to Quickle, Lasek gained his compliance and silence by threatening him with retaliation, including an implied threat that she would accuse him of rape.

A default judgment was entered against Lasek on January 17, 2020. The court set a damages trial, which occurred on September 21, 2020. Lasek did not appear but her counsel did. Quickle was the only person to testify.

The court found that Quickle’s complaint and testimony “painted a disturbing picture of abuse and manipulation” by Lasek.

The court also took judicial notice of state court proceedings that involved Lasek being charged with official misconduct and obstruction of justice. In a plea agreement, those charges were dismissed and Lasek pleaded guilty to one count of attempted obstruction of justice.

Quickle testified that as a result of Lasek’s conduct, he has suffered panic attacks, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and an intense fear of female guards. He has also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and he has engaged in incidents of self-harm.

The court awarded Quickle $100,000 in compensatory damages. It also awarded $200,000 in punitive damages for “Lasek’s reprehensible conduct and the need to deter her and others from similar conduct in the future.”

Quickle’s complaint also alleged wrongdoing by other defendants. Those claims involved Quickle being falsely disciplined and for the lack of prison resources for male prisoners who suffered sexual abuse. Those claims were settled by an undisclosed monetary settlement prior to the bench trial.

The court entered judgment against Lasek and dismissed the case as to the other defendants. See: Quickle v. Baldwin, Case No. 1:18-cv-01332, U.S.D.C. (C.D. Ill.). 

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Related legal case

Quickle v. Baldwin