WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – Trumbull County has a civil lawsuit on its hands. Two former jail inmates, Michelle Rafferty of Niles and Katie Sherman of Madison, say the county did not do enough after they filed a report of sexual misconduct.
The women claim Charles Drennen is the former Trumbull County corrections officer who sexually assaulted them. The lawsuit describes the incidents the women said happened while they were in jail in 2013 and 2014.
During night rounds, Drennen would often engage in sexual misconduct. Drennen would tap on the cell windows with his flashlight to get the women to ‘perform’ for him.
The complaints go on, stating Drennen would conduct strip searches, taunt the women, perform sex acts on himself in front of women inmates and then bribe them not to say anything.
In the lawsuit, it says Drennen exploited female prisoners for his “personal sexual gratification”. It also claims that he threatened and intimidated inmates.
The women are suing the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Thomas Altiere, The Trumbull County Commissioners, Lieutenant Eric Shay along with other correctional officers and sheriff employees.
The former inmates say Altiere and Shay were not following their administrative roles to protect the inmates and the commissioners are named because of their positions of authority over the jail.
When the former inmates submitted a formal complaint of sexual misconduct, they say they were labeled as ‘trouble makers’ and treated poorly. But, Sheriff Altiere says the department launched an internal investigation as soon as the inmates filed the formal complaint.
Drennen resigned when he was asked for a polygraph test. Drennen is not charged with any crime.
The women are asking for attorney’s fees and money for what the suit calls “severe and permanent injuries, including great physical, emotional and psychological pain and suffering” for violations of their constitutional rights.
The defendants are required to submit an answer to the court within 21 days.