Government & Politics

Jackson County settles claim stemming from sexual assault in downtown Kansas City jail

Jackson County will pay $275,000 to settle a negligence claim apparently arising out of a sexual assault that occurred Aug. 26 in the Jackson County Detention Center in downtown Kansas City.
Jackson County will pay $275,000 to settle a negligence claim apparently arising out of a sexual assault that occurred Aug. 26 in the Jackson County Detention Center in downtown Kansas City. jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com

Jackson County will pay $275,000 to settle a negligence claim apparently arising out of a sexual assault that occurred Aug. 26 in the Jackson County Detention Center.

The person receiving the settlement is identified only by the initials “L.M.,” who alleged “negligent acts” occurred in the jail.

Authorities previously reported that two women said they were assaulted in the downtown jail on Aug. 26, both as a result of security lapses caught on video.

Charges have been filed in only one of the attacks, against an inmate who was awaiting trial for murder. In addition to murder, Dontae D. Jefferson now faces charges of first-degree rape, first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree sexual abuse.

Jefferson allegedly wandered the halls of the jail for nearly two hours with two other inmates before the attack occurred, according to court documents.

Authorities said another inmate let Jefferson out of his cell with a key belonging to a guard. She’d accidentally left her keys in a cell door, and he returned them to her minus the key to his cell.

As a result of the attacks, Kansas City transferred all of its female prisoners out of the facility until security was improved. Kansas City contracts with Jackson County to hold municipal prisoners in the county jail.

The county hired a former U.S. district attorney to conduct an investigation, and the county legislature is hiring a consultant to do a top-to-bottom audit of jail operations.

Jackson County also faces potential legal liability from prisoners who claim they were the victims of excessive force by guards. The FBI launched a probe into those incidents since 2015 and so far has not made public the results of that investigation.

The county acknowledged no wrongdoing in this week’s settlement agreement. The victim’s name was blacked out in the copy provided at The Star’s request. A clause requires that the victim keep the details of what happened confidential, unless forced to divulge them by a court.

Even then, the county counselor would have to be notified in advance so the county would have time to intervene.

Mike Hendricks: 816-234-4738, @kcmikehendricks

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