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Former inmates suing Grainger County on rape allegations

Three former inmates say a guard used his knowledge of the facility's shortcomings to repeatedly rape them
Grainger County will soon add more cameras to cover current "blind spots" in the jail

(WBIR) Three former inmates of the Grainger County Detention Facility are suing on allegations they were repeatedly raped by a guard.

The Bowlin Law Firm in Morristown filed the multi-million dollar suit on behalf of the former inmates.

They are suing Grainger County, the Grainger County Sheriff's Department, and several detention facility guards in excess of $186 million.

The lawsuit names former guard, Jessie Cummings, as well as his supervisors Bobby Owens and Brad Johnson. Cummings also faces charges of sexual contact with an inmate, official misconduct, and official oppression following an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The women say Cummings repeatedly raped them and that shift supervisors at the jail made it possible for coerced sexual conduct and rape to occur.

The allegations of rape and sexual torture cover a year-long span from summer 2012 through July 2013.

However, Troy L. Bowlin, II with The Bowlin Law Firm said there could be other rape cases from the Grainger County Detention Facility, with other victims, that go as far back as 2007.

"My firm was contacted by one of the victims and during our investigation, other victims came forward," Bowlin said.

He went on to say, "We're not certain that these are the only three girls that were subjected to this treatment at the jail. Our investigation is ongoing."

Grainger County Sheriff Scott Layel and Chief Deputy Charles Biddle are also named in the lawsuit.

The women claim the jail's poor conditions during their stay, including "blind spots in the security cameras and locks that did not work" put the inmates at risk.

"This is a bad case. Grainger County is a small county and we've got three girls that were housed there and were subjected to this type of treatment," Bowlin said.

Back in November, three inmates escaped from the facility. Since then, the county has approved funding for new locks, fences, and security camera system.

The lawsuit now goes to the Grainger County attorney for a response.

Bowlin said he is unsure if the women ever tried reporting the rapes prior to the lawsuit.

All three women are still in jail, but are no longer incarcerated in Grainger County.

10News' attempts to contact the Grainger County Sheriff's Department went unanswered.

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