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Suit against guards dismissed

Melissa Topey • Aug 9, 2014 at 4:40 PM

A federal judge in Toledo’s U.S. District Court has thrown out a lawsuit involving the alleged sexual exploitation of a schizophrenic inmate who in was left naked in a cell for hours in January 2012.

Judge James Carr handed down the ruling July 25 that dismissed the case against Sandusky County and Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, along with jail guards Frank Kaiser, Charles Pump and Joshua Smith. Jenna Caster filed the lawsuit in January arguing her constitutional rights to be free of cruel and unusual punishment were violated in 2012, when she was 21 years old.

The lawsuit filed has a narrow scope of claim, or legal assertion, that corrections officers failed to do anything about the mental illness that caused her actions, such as getting her medication or transporting her to an area hospital for treatment.

But in the lawsuit she does not allege any injury.

“She alleges no lasting injuries that resulted, or treatment she required, following the events leading to this suit,” Carr wrote in his ruling.

He went on to declare that the actions of the jail guards do not rise to conduct that violated Caster’s rights as an inmate.

“Even if the defendants ‘egged her on’ inappropriately, their actions did not violate the Constitution,” the ruling states. “Even acts of touching do not rise to that level ... Thus, conduct by custodians that is verbal, rather than physical, is insufficient to state a cause of action under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The lawsuit Caster filed laid out the ordeal that began when she returned to the Sandusky County jail from a court hearing. 

Jail guards allege she threatened to kill herself and harm jail guards when they returned. They placed her in a suicide gown and placed her on watch. Guards allegedly did not place her in a restraint chair, common practice when an inmate is acting out and could possibly hurt themselves or others. They also allegedly failed to provide her with her medication for her schizophrenia.

Caster tried to flush her suicide gown and flooded her cell with urine and toilet water. Corrections officers then allegedly left her nude in the cell for the next six hours. During that time, they ignored another deputy’s request to clothe her and clean her cell. Pump and Smith are also accused of verbally interacting with Caster and encouraging her to act out in her cell.

“You can say anything you want to people like (the inmate) because no one will believe them,” Kaiser, who was supervising the shift, allegedly told them.

A grand jury determined no criminal violations occurred.

Kaiser and Pump were fired after the Sandusky Register reported on the incident. Smith resigned.

Kaiser and Pump were each paid $5,000 after being fired to drop any appeals of the termination and to not make any disparaging remarks about Overmyer, their former boss.

Multiple attempts to contact attorneys for the county and for Caster were not returned.

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