A federal jury awarded a large decision against the Bay County Sheriff’s Office after a former guard at the Bay County Jail allegedly raped two female inmates in 2013.

       The victims sued the former Correctional Officer, Pedro Reyes, and the Sheriff’s Office in Federal Court.

       In 2015, Reyes pleaded no contest to a charge of sexual misconduct between detention staff and inmates, and he was sentenced to five years of probation.

       But the victims’ attorney, Louis Baptiste, said the victims were unsatisfied with this sentence, so they sued both him and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

       “Number one their voices have been heard, but more importantly the corruption and what happened to them has been exposed. They weren’t satisfied with Pedro Reyes getting probation and having to see him at the local Tom Thumb, the Dollar General and Walmart,” Baptiste said.

       The jury found that the warden of the jail, Rick Anglin, was aware that Reyes might sexually assault an inmate, and that his failure to do anything led to the rape of the victims.

Because of these findings, the victims were awarded a total of $1 million from Reyes and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

       Despite the verdict and monetary award, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford disagrees with some of the testimony.  He says he and Bay County Jail Administrator Rick Anglin fired Reyes the same day they found out about his sexual activity with the women.  Reyes was charged with the crimes two days later.  Ford released this statement following the decision: 

      “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.”

       Reyes and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office can still file an appeal.