Crime

Ex-inmate's lawsuit says former jail officer exposed himself

A Lexington woman has filed a civil lawsuit against the city, jail and a former corrections officer, saying the former officer exposed himself to her while she was an inmate at the Fayette County Detention Center.

Shi Sibley is seeking an undetermined amount of punitive damages from former corrections officer Kevin Lawson.

Lawson's behavior violated Sibley's 14th Amendment rights and caused "emotional harm, anguish, insecurity, damage to (her) self-worth, shame and humiliation," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed nearly a year after Lawson was charged with misdemeanor sexual assault and indecent exposure. Two women accused Lawson of exposing himself last December, according to court documents. He has pleaded not guilty.

Lawson's attorney, Derek Gordon, said he had not received a copy of the lawsuit, "but I would say we will defend it as vigorously as we have the criminal case."

The criminal trial was delayed because Lawson, who is in the Army National Guard, was deployed overseas in August, Gordon said.

The lawsuit also names the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and the Fayette County Detention Center as defendants and says officials were negligent in the hiring, training and supervision of Lawson.

The lawsuit says the government should have known that Lawson was "of such moral character, temperament and disposition to be totally unfit to be hired and retained as a detention center officer."

Sibley told police that Lawson followed her into a bathroom while she was an inmate and exposed himself to her on Dec. 12, 2010, according to documents filed in Fayette District Court. She was serving a 30-day sentence after being accused of assaulting her live-in boyfriend and pleading guilty to harassment with physical contact, according to court documents.

Lawson was seen on surveillance video following the woman into the bathroom, where they remained for about five minutes, according to a police report. He denied exposing himself, but he told police that he allowed the inmate "to expose her breasts to him," the document said.

A separate criminal complaint charging Lawson with second-degree sexual abuse said he admitted to exposing himself to a female inmate on Dec. 11. That inmate was not identified.

Lawson was fired for misconduct on Jan. 4, said Sgt. Jennifer Taylor, spokeswoman at the jail.

Taylor deferred comment about the lawsuit to city spokeswoman Susan Straub. Straub said the city does not comment on pending lawsuits.

Sibley's attorney, Edward Dove, did not return a message seeking comment.

A pretrial conference in the criminal case has been scheduled for Dec. 21. Gordon said he had not been in contact with Lawson since he had been deployed and that the new date of the trial had not yet been scheduled.

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