NEW ORLEANS — A young girl jailed in
St. Bernard Parish Jail claims she was repeatedly abused by a
sheriff’s deputy, who allegedly made requests and orders that grew
more explicit as time passed.
The girl’s mother has filed a lawsuit
on her daughter’s behalf against the sheriff, his office, and the
deputy accused of the abuse.
29 in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of
Louisiana, the lawsuit
precedes any criminal charges. However, Gary Bizal, attorney for the
plaintiff, told The Louisiana Record that St. Bernard
Parish District Attorney’s office has said it’s still reviewing
the case and deciding what to do.
“Our goal is to recover
against the sheriff’s office over what happened with this young
girl. We’d like to confirm or make sure that the deputy is punished
in the case, criminally, and we’d like to recover an award for her
damages,” Bizal said. “It doesn’t look like they’ve done
anything except take the guy out of the jail.”
Arrested in June
or July 2015, the girl, known only as C.L. in court documents,
was sent to St. Bernard Parish Jail, where she allegedly was sexually
abused by a deputy in the sheriff’s department.
complaint accuses Deputy Eddie Williams of sexual abuse and
civil-rights violations, though criminal charges haven’t been
filed. The complaint claims she was subjected to Williams' abuse
every day that he was on duty in the area C.L. was held. He allegedly
asked to see the girl “in her ‘birthday suit’” and ordered
her to take off her clothes, “play with herself,” and sit on the
ground with her legs open. Additionally, before she showered,
Williams allegedly ordered her to stand in a location that allowed
him to see her naked through a video camera.
To force her to
comply with his orders, the deputy allegedly threatened to hurt or
kill the girl’s mother. He also allegedly bribed her with candy and
The civil complaint further alleges that other
deputies observed the behavior. It claims the sheriff should have
known about the deputy’s activities and taken action to protect
C.L. and other inmates from his misconduct. The plaintiff claims
Sheriff James Pohlmann permitted male deputies to oversee female
juvenile inmates unsupervised, knowing their duties include strip
searches via video. It further alleges that the sheriff failed to
supervise, train and discipline guards to stop or prevent sexual
abuse of inmates in the jail.
While he moves ahead with the civil
case, Bizal has also contacted the FBI to ask it to investigate. In
the event that criminal charges are filed, it’s likely the civil
case would be put on hold while the criminal trial played out.
The New Orleans attorney said he’d
prefer that if it meant someone pursued the charges.
it’s a civil-rights violation, the FBI has concurrent
jurisdiction,” Bizal said.
He said he would prefer to have the
case handled by the FBI because it would then be prosecuted by the
U.S. Attorney’s Office instead of the district attorney. Bizal
believes that would ensure a thorough, independent review of the
“But either one, I’d be happy,” he said.