YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A jail employee who was raped by an inmate in the Mahoning County jail has filed a civil suit against the sheriff’s office.
In the suit that was filed Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, attorneys for the employee said that “reckless” actions by the sheriff’s department left her alone with an inmate, Rondell Harris, who had a history of making sexually suggestive comments to female employees.
Harris, 34, was sentenced last week to 26 to 31 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of rape, kidnapping, tampering with evidence and disrupting public services for the May 5, 2022, attack on the employee, a longtime veteran of the department.
The complaint says that Harris was transferred to the county jail from the maximum security state Supermax prison in April 2022 and quickly built up a reputation as a troublesome inmate.
Harris had a previous sexual assault conviction and was transferred at the jail to the medical unit, which has less security than other areas of the jail, the complaint said.
The employee was assigned to guard Harris in the medical unit and he stood by the door naked, the complaint said. Harris also wrote several sexually suggestive notes to female deputies, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, Harris remained in the medical unit, the complaint said, even though the employee’s superiors knew of Harris’ behavior.
The employee was attacked when she went to retrieve Harris’ food tray, which he refused to give back to her, the complaint said.
The employee is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney fees.