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Suit against jailer heads to mediation

Accused of sexual misconduct

YOUNGSTOWN — A civil lawsuit — filed in federal court in 2016 — accusing a former jail correction officer of sexual misconduct is headed for mediation.

The civil suit, seeking punitive damages, originated was brought by attorneys Sarah Kovoor and Thomas Lambros on behalf of Michele Rafferty of Niles and Katie L. Sherman of Madison.

Court records show U.S. District Judge Benita Y. Pearson had in 2017 dismissed the case involving plaintiff Rafferty and other defendants who included current Trumbull County commissioners, a sheriff lieutenant and former Sheriff Thomas Altiere.

The remaining issue, which survived a federal appeal by defendant and former jailer Charles E. Drennen of Warren, involved his alleged violating the Eight Amendment rights of former inmate Sherman.

“Designation of the mediator shall be completed by no later than April 30, with mediation shall be completed by June 1, 2020, if possible,” Pearson wrote.

The suit states Drennen exploited inmates “for his personal sexual gratification,” forced others to watch, and that other officers were aware of the behavior.

Reports said the event the suit refers to occurred at night in the female bay during hourly checks. One of the inmates, the report states, was performing a sexual act on herself while others pretended to sleep when Drennen walked in. The interaction lasted about a minute and was captured on video.

During the sheriff office investigation, Drennen turned in his resignation.

The dates surrounding the incident were unclear, but the lawsuit states Sherman was in Trumbull County Jail from November 2013 until April 2014.

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