Panama City, Fla. - Two Bay County Jail inmates who said they were sexually assaulted by a former corrections officer have won a federal lawsuit against the officer and the Bay County Sheriff's Office.
The victim said Pedro Reyes raped her and several other inmates in a closet at the jail. They also claimed that several corrections officers knew what was happening and failed to protect her.
Reyes was arrested in 2013 in the case and pleaded no contest in January 2015 to a charge of sexual misconduct between detention staff and inmates. He was sentenced to 5 years of probation.
A federal trial began in the case on Friday. On Monday night the jurors found for the plaintiffs and awarded them each $500,000.
Sheriff Tommy Ford issued a statement to News 13 about the lawsuit Tuesday. His full statement is below.
"The criminal behavior committed in 2013 by Reyes is unacceptable. It always has been and it always will be.
It is my belief that this incident was handled in a decisive manner, resulting in his immediate termination upon our learning of the allegations, and then, at the conclusion of our investigation, his arrest two days later.
I understand the jury's decision in that the women were in our care and custody. This will never be tolerated at the Bay County Jail and strict procedures are in place to prevent it from occurring again.
Reyes violated his oath to protect those in his care, as well as the public's trust, and the trust of the men and women of the Bay County Jail that serve honorably each day."
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