MARSHALL — A woman who accused former Harrison County sheriff’s Deputy Roger “Chilly” Valentine of raping her while being transported in March has filed a civil rights lawsuit in Marshall’s federal court against him, Harrison County and the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas.
The lawsuit was filed July 25 by the woman, who is listed as “Jane Doe” in the complaint.
The woman, a Dallas County resident, is being represented by attorneys Timothy Dortch and Maryssa Simpson of the Potts Law Firm in Dallas.
She also is represented by Simpson’s sister, Michelle Simpson Tuegel of the Simpson Tuegel Law Firm in Dallas.
Simpson is known for her representation of former U.S. Olympic gymnasts and college athletes, who were sexually abused by former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. The lawsuit against MSU resulted in a $500 million global settlement.
Tuegel said in an interview that society tends to think money is a big motivation in filing such lawsuits, but the first thing survivors who seek her help always tell her is that they don’t want anyone else to experience what could have been preventable.
“This Jane Doe, who doesn’t want to be identified at this point, feels the same way — that this was preventable,” Tuegel said.
She said the case is especially disturbing since Valentine already was under investigation for sexual misconduct when he resigned from the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, before his employment with Harrison County.
“This information that was released (by the News-Journal) was publicly accessible records that this officer had been in trouble before and that he has a history of problems,” Tuegel said. “And that information that was easily accessible by journalists should’ve been also accessible to the county that chose to employ him and send him out alone with this female without anyone else.”
Furthermore, she said, the transport process that was exercised that day — sending only one transport officer — is not in line with the typical procedure of moving people in custody.
“One difference in this case (compared with Tuegel’s other survivor cases) is I worry that the public might look at this case and have less compassion for her (because she was incarcerated),” Tuegel said. “But my response to that is: part of her sentence was not to be sexually assaulted.”
Jane Doe is seeking a jury trial and $2 million in damages. Harrison County Judge Chad Sims confirmed that he was served with the county’s summons Tuesday but couldn’t comment on litigation.
Court documents show that Valentine was sent his summons last week.
The suit alleges that on March 22, Valentine, 53, assaulted Jane Doe while on duty, transporting her from the Linda Woodman State Jail to the Harrison County Jail in Marshall.
The lawsuit says the state jail, in Gatesville in Coryell County, released the woman into the custody of a lone, male transport officer, identified as Valentine, for the about 4 1/2-hour trip. The lawsuit alleges Valentine didn’t follow proper procedure when handcuffing her for transport.
“Plaintiff is roughly 5’5, and Defendant Valentine stood much taller than Plaintiff and is heavyset. Plaintiff was handcuffed and placed in the rear of the transport van,” the lawsuit states. “Notably, Defendant Valentine stood closely behind Plaintiff to handcuff and shackle her, which is not protocol and resulted in Defendant Valentine rubbing the front of his body up against Plaintiff’s back and buttocks.
“A female guard or employee of Linda Woodman State Jail was present when Defendant handcuffed and shackled Plaintiff inappropriately,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit describes the ride to Harrison County as an uncomfortable one with several sexual comments and advances made by Valentine. The lawsuit states the rape took place after she asked the deputy if they could stop for a restroom break.
“When Plaintiff asked to use the restroom on the multiple-hour drive, Defendant Valentine stopped at a gas station/convenience store in Corsicana that he knew to have no surveillance cameras,” the lawsuit states. “Directly across the street was a larger gas station, which Defendant Valentine initially pulled into, but he then changed course and chose the smaller station that was not as heavily populated and which did not have surveillance.”
The lawsuit says Valentine followed the inmate into the gas station restroom.
“Plaintiff could not object to the officer’s actions, and further assumed he came into the restroom with her in order to remove her shackles so that she could use the restroom without falling,” the lawsuit states. “However, once in the restroom, Defendant Valentine cornered Plaintiff into a stall, and Plaintiff realized Defendant Valentine had opened his pants and exposed himself to her. Defendant Valentine then forced Plaintiff to turn around and proceeded to rape her. Plaintiff was shackled for the duration of the rape.
“Defendant Valentine then removed Plaintiff’s handcuffs, left, washed his hands, and as she exited the restroom, he handcuffed her again and returned her to the vehicle,” the lawsuit indicates.
The inmate said she was in continual fear for the remainder of the drive as Valentine continued the journey, while proceeding to make sexually abusive and harassing remarks.
The plaintiff immediately reported the allegation to a sergeant after arriving at the jail about 2 p.m. She was taken to a nurse’s office and then to Christus Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler to be examined.
The lawsuit blames the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas for failing to take any action to investigate Valentine’s sexual misconduct that arose from the Gregg County prior to his employment with Harrison.
“According to records obtained from Gregg County Jail, supervisors were investigating claims from at least one female employee that Roger ‘Chilly’ Valentine asked her to touch his groin area ‘inappropriately and without her consent’ and that he grabbed her buttocks in February 2013 while on a jail elevator,” the lawsuit states. “Prior to the outcome of that investigation, he submitted a one-sentence resignation to supervisors. Valentine continued to work for Harrison County Sheriffs’ Office, after no further investigation was launched into his misconduct.
“Upon information and belief, the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas failed to take any action to investigate Defendant Valentine’s sexual misconduct,” the lawsuit states.
“Defendant Harrison County also failed to adequately screen potential hires or conduct background checks to ensure the safety of inmates,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit says the defendants ignored their own policies and procedures regarding having two officers conduct transports.
“Defendant Valentine, as well as Defendant Harrison County, wholly failed to ensure national standard jail policies were adhered to and failed to provide any safeguards to prevent incidents of sexual assault and harm against inmates,” the lawsuit contends. “Specifically, Defendants did not require at least two officers to be present during all transports, especially those of considerable duration and length; did not require at least one female officer to be present during female inmate transfers; nor did Defendants require safeguards such as video cameras within transport vans during single officer transports, mileage checks, or communications with other officers or supervisors, either en route or upon final destination, to ensure officers upheld their duties as prescribed by law.”
“In addition to those reasons stated above, Defendants negligently failed to protect Plaintiff, and other female inmates, from the unwanted assault by Defendant Valentine despite the knowledge of previous sexually inappropriate behavior, and in spite of common national jail standards of requiring at least two officers during any transport of inmates for officer safety,” the lawsuit argues.
The suit also says the Sheriff’s Association of Texas failed to investigate, warn of or provide any safeguards against sexual misconduct and perpetrators being passed through the sheriff’s offices of the state.
“Defendants’ failures led directly to Plaintiff’s assault, and caused her physical pain and injury as well as emotional and mental anguish and trauma,” the lawsuit states.
As a result of the actions, the plaintiff said she has suffered and continues to suffer pain , shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, fright, grief and humiliation.
Additionally, she said she has sustained and will continue to sustain loss of earnings and has required and will continue to require treatment, therapy, counseling and hospitalization to address the mental anguish and despair the defendants’ conduct caused.
Further, “as a result of Defendant Valentine’s malicious physical abuse, unconscionable and egregious abuse of power, and sexual assault as set forth above, he deprived Plaintiff of her constitutional rights in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States,” the lawsuit contends. “The sexual assault against Plaintiff was an unreasonable physical seizure of Plaintiff under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. In the alternative, the assault by Defendant Valentine was a violation of Plaintiff’s due process rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by violating her rights to bodily integrity.”
The plaintiff is seeking all past and future damages as a result of the physical pain and injury to her person and the emotional and mental anguish and trauma she has suffered. Additionally, she’s seeking compensatory damages as well as exemplary damages against Valentine.
Criminal caseValentine has a criminal case pending in Navarro County where the incident took place. He resigned as a deputy after an investigation was launched because of the inmate’s complaint.
Harrison County officials arrested Valentine on March 27 on a Navarro County warrant for violating the civil rights of a person in custody by engaging in sexual activity. He was released March 28 on a $200,000 bond.
Harrison County’s Chief Deputy Brandon Fletcher confirmed that Valentine began his employment at the sheriff’s office in November 2013 as a hospital security officer. He later became a transport officer.