ALFRED — A former inmate who was sexually assaulted by a corrections officer at the York County Jail in October 2016 has filed a federal civil lawsuit against the man who assaulted her as well as York County, Sheriff William King, Jail Superintendent Michael Vitiello and another unnamed corrections officer.

Jonathan Carpenter was on duty as a corrections officer when he assaulted the woman. He was indicted on a gross sexual assault charge in June 2017, and pleaded guilty to the Class B felony charge in April. He was sentenced to five years in prison, with all but one year suspended, followed by three years of probation. He is currently incarcerated at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham. Upon his release he will be required to register as a sex offender.

The seven-count complaint, filed Oct. 1 at U.S. District Court in Portland, alleges that Carpenter, the county, the sheriff and the jail superintendent violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights and that the county failed to adequately train corrections staff.

“Defendants County of York, William King and Michael Vitiello have failed to adequately develop policies and procedures for training corrections officers so as to prevent sexual assaults on female inmates,” attorney Heather Gonzales wrote on behalf of her client. “These insufficient policies and procedures are the cause of and the moving force behind the deprivation of plaintiff’s constitutional rights and caused extreme emotional distress to plaintiff, including but not limited to an attempted suicide, flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety and depression.”

Carpenter was employed at the York County Jail from Sept. 21, 2015, to Jan. 13, 2017, when he resigned, according to county records.

The victim was serving a six-month sentence for violating the terms of her probation on another charge when the incident took place. The Journal Tribune does not name victims of sexual assault without their consent.

According to the lawsuit, it was only after she was transferred to Cumberland County Jail in Portland that she felt safe enough to report the sexual assault.

She said Carpenter was aware there were no surveillance cameras inside the Administrative Segregation Unit where she was incarcerated when he pulled her to him and kissed her on Oct. 2, 2016. According to the lawsuit, Carpenter heard someone approach and left, but returned about 30 minutes later and sexually assaulted her.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was afraid Carpenter would retaliate and initially denied the sexual assault when questioned by jail employees.

Four days after the incident, the plaintiff attempted to commit suicide by hanging herself because of the severe emotional distress, the court filing claims. Jail personnel found her and saved her.

Gonzales said her client relocated to Arizona after her release, according to the lawsuit.

“She’s still shook up,” Gonzales said Tuesday by telephone.

The plaintiff is seeking unspecified monetary damages, punitive damages, costs and attorney fees from all defendants. She has requested a jury trial.

Once they have been served paperwork formally notifying them of the lawsuit, the defendants have 21 days to file a response, according to a clerk at the federal court.

Sheriff King declined to comment on the lawsuit, and County Manager Greg Zinser did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Regarding Carpenter’s sexual assault conviction in April, King said, “(The incident is) certainly not reflective of the fine men and women that work for the York County Jail.”

He said the jail has stringent hiring guidelines that include requiring prospective employees to undergo a polygraph exam. King said Carpenter, who previously worked elsewhere as a corrections officer, took a polygraph exam before being hired at the jail.

Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or at:

[email protected]

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