Child rapist sues Garfield County for jail rapes

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This story has been updated since its original publication.

POMEROY — A Garfield County man has filed a civil rights lawsuit claiming the county failed to protect him from multiple forcible rapes by another inmate while he was held in the county jail.

According to a complaint filed Tuesday in Walla Walla County Superior Court, the plaintiff was held in the Garfield County jail in August 2011, and placed in a cell with John Markwell.

Markwell became abusive and intimidating and the plaintiff informed jail personnel he feared for his safety, according to the complaint.

Beginning on Aug. 20, 2011, Markwell forcibly raped the plaintiff at least three times. Markwell was charged with three counts of forcible rape and on May 9, 2012 was convicted by a jury.

As a persistent offender, Markwell was sentenced to life without parole and is currently housed at the Washington State Penitentiary.

The Union-Bulletin is not naming the plaintiff due to its policy of not naming victims of sexual assault.

The plaintiff was initially being held in the jail on charges of rape of a child and child molestation. He pleaded guilty to both charges and is currently serving a sentence of 10 years to life at Monroe Corrections Center.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff contends he has suffered and continues to suffer from severe emotional distress, including anxiety and nightmares as a result of the Garfield County Jail rapes. He is seeking an unspecified amount for damages.

“People who are incarcerated are extremely vulnerable. Prison rape and jail rape are huge problem,” Lee Rousso, the plainiff’s attorney, said in an interview Wednesday. “From my perspective these are extremely serious allegations, and I hope that Garfield County will take them seriously.”

County Prosecutor Matt Newberg said this morning that the case would be defended by the county’s insurance provider, the Washington Counties Risk Pool. He said he was not aware of any jail procedures or policies that were changed as a result of the plaintiff being raped by Markwell while in custody, and had no other comment on the lawsuit.

Garfield County Sheriff Ben Keller did not respond to multiple calls and an email seeking comment on jail policies as of this morning.

Walla Walla County has jurisdiction over the suit because Washington State allows plaintiffs to file suits against a county in either of two neighboring counties. Because Garfield County shares a single Superior Court judge with Columbia and Asotin counties, plantiffs may sue Garfield County in either Walla Walla or Whitman counties.

This law exists to avoid having cases adjudicated by judges who are employed by the county being sued.

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.


This article was updated on Aug. 14. 2014 at 7:50 a.m. to clarify that Markwell's forcible rapes of the plaintiff began on Aug. 20, 2011.

Comments

FuzzyBear 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Too bad. Maybe he should think about what he did to that child (ren). "In the lawsuit complaint, the plaintiff contends he has suffered and continues to suffer from severe emotional distress, including anxiety and nightmares as a result of the Garfield County Jail rapes." What does he think that child is going through!!!!! LET HIM SUFFER!!!!!

5

namvet60 2 months, 2 weeks ago

It seems in this day and age the offenders try to pass themselves off as the victim. This guy has probably not seen end of his in-house love affairs.

4

OGYDEN 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree with comment number one above. Karma kind of literally bit him in the butt. I hope he doesn't get a dime because he doesn't deserve it. Or if he does get an award the restitution can be used to pay restitution for the children that he has damaged for the their lives.

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Hersey 2 months, 2 weeks ago

His minor victims should sue him civilly and hope he gets money from his suit so they can get the money. He should not get a dime.

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loplover 2 months, 2 weeks ago

That's actually a very good idea. Since the Sheriff's Office is letting their insurance company defend the case, they've probably already decided to settle out of court, meaning that he will get some money. His victims should get first shot at it. I have some other opinions, but am posting them elsewhere on this thread.

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NewInWW 2 months, 2 weeks ago

As repulsive as the plaintiff's crimes were, it's almost as repulsive that inmates fear what other inmates may do to them while incarcerated more than they fear the incarceration itself. Our prison system is badly in need of reform.

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wwnative 2 months, 2 weeks ago

There are procedures in place to keep these assaults from happening. The counties and state are proactive in their approaches, but they can't babysit these offenders 24 hours a day. Many of these people are in jail and prison because they are predators and enjoy the power and degradation these acts provide. They are there for a reason. The bottom line is, if you don't want these things to happen, don't do the things that get you there. By the way, the rapist is a predator too. He didn't seem to give a rats ass about his victims. This may be a wake up call. I hope this gives him pause for thought, and he doesn't receive a dime.

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guycnelson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The claim made in the lawsuit seems to be that there were not procedures in place or they were not followed.

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Kevconpat 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The guy admits to molestation and rape of a child. A Child! You have got to be kidding! He got what he deserved. The poor- oh ...'I'm a victim' VICTIMIZED a child! Life sometimes serves up just the right Karma, Dude. He's a convicted rapist/molester of children. He pleaded guilty and now the creep is whining that 'he' was..... RAPED.!? What The f------- OMG. Hope you don't get a penny, Bit----! Because that is what you are now! Many times over. No pitty, period!

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NewInWW 2 months, 2 weeks ago

You folks act as if it's only child rapists who are assaulted in prison.

The truth is that the strong prey on the weak regardless what the weak did, and pretty much get away with it - and that's the shameful truth about our penal system.

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FuzzyBear 2 months, 2 weeks ago

But this thread has to do with a piece of scum that molested/raped a child and admitted he did and then when it happens to him he whines. This thread has nothing to do with all the others. We are discussing one scum bag here.

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PearlY 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Predators who enjoy the power and degradation that rape provides DO need to be babysat 24 hours a day, unless they're locked up alone.

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PearlY 2 months, 2 weeks ago

NewInWW, For once, I agree with you 100%. The punishment of criminals should be decided by law; rape and other forms of torture have no place in it. It is irrelevant whether the criminal "deserves" it; our society does not, and I wouldn't trust a correctional officer who would knowingly countenance, much less enable, the rape of a prisoner to be at large in my community any more than I would trust the prisoner himself.

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Kahunga 2 months, 2 weeks ago

His daddy probably warned him, if he did bad things and ended up in jail, this could happen. Oh, well. I can't really generate any sympathy for him. He will be lucky if he isn't killed. Even most lawbreakers hate child molesters.

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guycnelson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The arguments here are compelling. Write your legislators. Ask them to pass laws providing for prisons to hire rapists to mete out the justice you feel child molesters have earned. Why leave prison rape to chance. I'm sure that's something many here could get behind.

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FuzzyBear 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Sounds like this hit a sore spot guycnelson. Do you have any compassion for the child(ren) that he touched? In my book a child molester or a child rapist is the worst piece of s*** on this earth.

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guycnelson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Well said. I assume then you are on board with my proposed legislation.

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