A woman who said she was repeatedly raped by a correctional officer while she was held in the Milwaukee County Jail four years ago was awarded $6.7 million by a federal jury on Wednesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The plaintiff, who is not named because she is the victim of a sexual crime, filed a lawsuit against the county and the guard, Xavier Thicklen. Thicklen, 28, was charged with sexual assault, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and has since been fired.
“She was raped repeatedly at the age of 19. She sought justice and she is glad the system delivered that justice,” Theresa Kleinhaus, a Chicago attorney who litigated the case with other attorneys from the firm, told the Journal Sentinel. “She hopes to prevent other women from being sexually assaulted in the Milwaukee County Jail.”
The woman was already pregnant when she was booked into the jail in early 2013, the Journal Sentinel reports and she was shackled as she went through labor later that year. The jury found there was “no legitimate government purpose” to shackle the woman during childbirth labor, but jurors did not find she was injured and therefore awarded her no monetary damages, Kleinhaus said according to the paper.
The verdict comes amid a turbulent time for the Milwaukee County Jail, which is overseen by controversial Sheriff David Clarke who has been an outspoken supporter of President Trump. Clarke claimed in a deposition that the practice of shackling was necessary for the protection of the hospital staff. Clarke did not testify during the trial but has been at the center of many controversies over the years involving accusations of neglect or abuse of law enforcement power.