LANSING, MI –
The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether Wayne County will be held responsible for the behavior of a jail guard who raped a woman being held in jail. As Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports, the court's decision will help determine whether local governments are liable for civil rights violations by rogue employees.
Tara Hamed was picked up in 2001 for failing to pay child support and then detained at the Wayne County Jail for violating her probation. While she was waiting to be transferred to a drug treatment program, a guard first propositioned her with the promise of better treatment, and later he raped her. The guard was fired and prosecuted for criminal sexual conduct. But Hamed says the county should be also held responsible for violating her civil rights by placing the guard in a position of authority that he abused. The county says state law grants local governments immunity from civil rights lawsuits filed by inmates. The court of appeals ruled with Hamed that she was not technically an inmate, and that she was denied a public service - protection while in custody.