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Youngstown Jailer Accused of Misconduct to Skip Court for Mediation

Tuesday, April, 14, 2020

The 2016 civil lawsuit filed in federal court accusing a former Youngstown correctional office of sexual misconduct is making its way to mediation in the coming months.  The suit seeks punitive damages and was originally filed by lawyers Sarah Kovoor and Thomas Lambros on behalf of Michele Rafferty of Niles and Katie L.  Sherman of Madison.


According to court records, US District Judge Benita Y.  Pearson had previously dismissed the case.  The case originally involved Rafferty, as well as and other defendants including current Trumbull County commissioners, a sheriff lieutenant, and former Sheriff Thomas Altiere.  One issue remained and made it through a federal appeal.  That issue involved a violation of the Eighth Amendment rights of Sherman. 


According to Pearson, “Designation of the mediator shall be completed by no later than April 30, with the mediation shall be completed by June 1, 2020, if possible.”


According to the lawsuit, Drennen exploited inmates and requested “personal sexual gratification.” He also forced other people to watch.  The suit also alleges that other officers knew of Drennan’s actions but did nothing to stop them from happening.


In one specific instance, a female inmate was assaulted during hourly checks at night.  An inmate who allegedly witnessed the event stated the female inmate performed a sexual act on herself while others pretended to sleep when Drennen walked in.  The interaction was captured on video.  The date of the incident is unclear, but according to the lawsuit, Sherman was an inmate between November 2013 and April 2014, so it is assumed it occurred within that time frame.