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$500,000 Settlement for California Jail Rape, Deputy Fired and Sentenced

A Ventura County, California jail deputy finds himself on the other side of the law after Superior Court Judge Gilbert Romero recently found him guilty of sexual misconduct with a female prisoner. The county of Ventura has paid $500,000 to settle a sexual assault lawsuit filed by the same former prisoner.

Megan Wilson was being held in the Ventura County Jail in 2019 when she was raped by guard Leonard Lopez. Lopez, a 49-year-old Southern California deputy, entered her cell in the special housing unit and the jail infirmary where she was recuperating from seizures and other medical conditions and proceeded to fondle and rape her. After the encounter, Wilson immediately reported Lopez’s misconduct to staff members at the jail.

Ventura County officials and Deputy Lopez denied the woman’s allegations. Nevertheless, criminal charges were later filed against Lopez, who was subsequently terminated in September 2020. Lopez was sentenced in June to 120 days in jail and a year on probation.

In February 2021, Wilson filed a civil suit in federal court against Ventura County and Lopez alleging civil rights violations. On August 16, 2021, the parties reached a settlement, with Wilson being paid $500,000 for agreeing to drop the suit. See: Wilson v. City of Ventura, USDC, CD CA, Case No. No. 2:21-cv-01231-PA-JPRx.

Wilson’s attorney, Neil Gehlawat, said in the end Wilson was disappointed in the criminal justice system. 


Source: Associated Press,

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