$2M Legal Fees In Cases of Masturbating IL Inmates

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Legal fees for cases relating to masturbating detainees at Cook County Jail could reach more than $2 million, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. The county board’s Finance Committee on Wednesday will consider the latest $486,216 in fees and expenses for five cases brought by public defenders, sheriff’s officers and other female county employees exposed to harassment. That is on top of nearly $1.7 million the board already paid out. It’s been dubbed an “extreme brand of workplace sexual harassment” by one state senator, who sought increased penalties for the lewd behavior.

The problem got so bad a federal judge in 2017 ordered all Cook County jail detainees with a history of indecent exposure, masturbation or sexual misconduct to remain handcuffed “at all times” during courthouse visits. Six employees of the Cook County Public Defender’s office filed a sexual harassment suit, saying the problem dated back to 2015. They described frequent encounters with detainees who would masturbate, sexually harass or expose themselves to lawyers during meetings. Dozens of female sheriff’s officers filed suit against Sheriff Tom Dart in 2017 and last year, alleging that he hadn’t done enough to protect them from near daily encounters with detainees who would sexually harass and assault them. The fees before the committee on Wednesday relate to five cases brought by public defenders, jail guards, a court interpreter and a nurse. Cara Smith, Dart’s chief of policy, said the cases have not been settled.

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