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Women Claim Jailer Rape in Federal Lawsuit

27-Feb-2015

A lawsuit filed in federal court claims that two women were forcibly raped by a jailer while they were incarcerated at the Ottawa County Jail.

The lawsuit follows allegations made against Daniel Clements in 2013. Two women, aged 25 and 31, claim that while they were in solitary confinement in the Ottawa County Jail, the man raped them, saying he was "just doing [his] job," and threatening them with being placed "in lockdown forever" if they did not comply.They also accuse him of having sex with other inmates in exchange for providing them with cigarettes. 

The claims of "official misconduct" were investigated by the OSBI in 2013, and the Bureau turned over its findings to the Ottawa County district attorney, who declined to file charges. According to Ottawa County District Attorney Kenny Wright, investigators "did not find any evidence of any criminal wrongdoing."

If the rape claims were unsubstantiated by a criminal investigation, why would the accusers file a lawsuit in the case? 

Because the burden of proof is much lighter in a civil lawsuit than in a criminal case. 

In a criminal case, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, who must prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant committed the crimes of which he or she is accused. In a civil case, on the other hand, the case is not "proven" beyond a reasonable doubt, but merely by a "preponderance of evidence"--in other words, it is more likely than not that the lawsuit defendant was culpable.

A notable case of an acquittal in criminal court followed by a civil judgment is the O.J. Simpson murder case. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. However, the families of the murder victims filed a civil lawsuit against Simpson. The court held Simpson liable for $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Obviously, forcible rape is against the law in Oklahoma. It is one of the seven acts of first degree rape defined in 21 O.S. § 1114. The penalty for first degree rape in Oklahoma is five years to life in prison.

It is also a violation of Oklahoma law for a jailer or other corrections official to have apparently consensual sex with an inmate or other person in custody. Because law enforcement officers and Department of Corrections employees are considered to be in a position of authority over jail or prison inmates, any apparent "consent" is assumed to be coerced. Therefore, there is no legal consent in sexual activity between the person in custody and the person holding custody. Sex with an inmate in exchange for cigarettes would be considered second degree rape, commonly called statutory rape. 

While statutory rape is a lesser charge than first degree rape, it nonetheless carries harsh penalties. A person convicted of second degree rape faces up to 15 years of prison and lifetime sex offender registration.



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