Two female inmates who were sexually assaulted many times while in the Polk County, Wis., jail have been awarded $11.5 million, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. A jury in a federal lawsuit issued the verdict against corrections officer Darryl Christensen and the county, saying the women’s civil rights were violated. “They went through misery. It was a nightmare for these people, it had a horrible impact on their lives,” said their attorney, Tom Weidner.
They might never see the money from Christensen, he said, but he described the overall award as “adequate compensation” for the assaults. Christensen, 50, was sentenced to 30 years in prison last year after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting five women while on duty in the jail, in some instances dozens of times. Had Polk County adopted the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, which sets strict standards to prevent sexual assaults, Weidner said, “maybe they could have detected and prevented this.” The law requires state and federal prisons that receive federal funding to comply with the measure, but Wisconsin hasn’t applied those standards to county jails.