Michigan Court of Appeals rules against Wayne County

EAST LANSING, MI – The Michigan Court of Appeals says a public agency is not immune from lawsuits when its employees use their authority to hurt someone.

In 2001 a Wayne County male deputy sexually assaulted a female prisoner while she was in jail. Even though the presence of a female deputy is required with female prisoners, the woman was left alone with the male deputy. He tried to entice her into having sex with him, and when she refused, he assaulted her. He was later fired and convicted of a crime.

When the woman tried to sue the Sheriff's Department for responsibility, her case was thrown out. But the state Court of Appeals says she deserves a trial.

Brian Lavan is an attorney for the former prisoner. He has been working on her case since she was assaulted.

"It's wearing us out," he says. "It's been a long while. It's not been a case, it's been a career. Justice delayed is justice denied. This is almost eight years in the running."

Wayne County could appeal the decision with the state Supreme Court.