Woman launches lawsuit, alleges sexual assault while detained in Lexington County
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A lawsuit is underway against the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and two police officers alleging a woman was raped while in custody.
The woman filing the lawsuit is a resident of the county and is filing under Jane Doe as a victim of sexual assault.
On Dec. 19, 2020 the woman was arrested by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department on a nonviolent offense and taken to the detention center at around 3:16 p.m.
The lawsuit says Doe has a history of mental illness and had previously been sexually assaulted. The lawsuit also says she was prescribed various medications and had recently been hospitalized at Three Rivers Behavioral Health.
On Dec. 21, 2020 Doe was placed on a suicide watch after expressing suicidal ideas. While on the watch she was taken to Observation Cell No. 3. It was equipped with video monitoring equipment.
On Dec. 22, 2020 at around 1 p.m., Officer J.R. Belt is alleged to have housed a male inmate, Joshua Nathaniel Nelson with Doe inside the observation cell. Belt is one of the defendants in the lawsuit.
Nelson was being held on multiple violent charges including 1st Degree Assault and Battery, Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime, and Criminal Conspiracy.
The lawsuit says Nelson sexually assaulted Doe in the cell which was recorded and alleges she was in and out of consciousness during that time.
At around 2:30 p.m. the lawsuit says Belt removed Nelson from the observation cell after being told a male and female inmate were occupying the same cell.
Doe reported her sexual assault and was taken to the Lexington Medical Center for examination.
On Dec. 22, 2020 Nelson had a warrant executed on him by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office on the sexual assault accusation.
On Dec. 23, 2020 an arrest warrant was executed against Doe for filing a false report of a felony violation. On April 19, 2021 the lawsuit lays Doe’s charges were dismissed during a preliminary hearing.
The lawsuit alleges law enforcement failed to protect her while in custody and failed to follow procedures in keeping inmates separated, failed to observe her and then failed to remove Nelson after the assault for nearly an hour.
WIS has embedded the full lawsuit below.
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