A federal jury has awarded $6.7 million to a woman who was raped repeatedly by a guard when she was being held in the Milwaukee County Jail four years ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Guard Xavier Thicklen was acting under his scope of employment when the sexual assaults occurred and Milwaukee County is liable for the damages amount, the jury determined. 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 awarded no monetary damages, said Theresa Kleinhaus, a Chicago attorney who helped litigate the case.
“She was raped repeatedly at the age of 19. She sought justice and she is glad the system delivered that justice,” Kleinhaus said. “She hopes to prevent other women from being sexually assaulted in the Milwaukee County Jail.” The newspaper did not name the woman because she was a sexual assault victim. Thicklen was charged with sexual assault and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. He was fired. The woman was pregnant when she was booked into the jail in 2013. She was shackled as she went through labor later that year. Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. defended the shackling, saying it is required to protect hospital staff. The lawsuit claimed such a policy is unconstitutional and can harm the mother and child. The verdict was issued as the sheriff’s office deals with several legal issues and Clarke plans to leave for a job in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.