Health and Safety

Filed - July 20, 2018

Sherman and Rafferty v. Trumball County (Sixth Circuit)


Sherman and Rafferty v. Trumball County alleges that a correctional officer at the Trumball County Jail in Ohio sexually abused a female detainee, Katie Sherman, by repeatedly instructing her to expose her breasts to him and masturbate in front of him. The trial court denied the defendants’ ​motion to throw out Ms. Sherman’s case, allowing it to go to trial—but the defendants have appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, arguing that the officer’s misconduct was not so grave as to violate Ms. Sherman’s clearly established constitutional rights.

The MacArthur Justice Center filed an amicus brief, arguing that when an officer directs a detainee or prisoner to perform sexual acts for his gratification, it is offensive and absurd to call the encounter “consensual.” Sexual abuse is rampant in American prisons and jails, supervisors often turn a blind eye to it, and incarcerated men and women who complain about sexual abuse face all manner of retaliation at the hands of their jailers. No one who is locked up should be pressured to perform sex acts to gratify the correctional officers who exercise dominion and control over their lives.

Key Documents