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At the Cook County Jail – three female corrections officers have filed a lawsuit claiming that Sheriff Tom Dart has not done enough to protect them from inmates who threaten and grope female guards and “brazenly masturbate” in front of them.


According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a lawyer for veteran corrections officers Sdahrie Howard, Denise Hobbs and Ellenor Altman said the trio and their fellow female officers who work in the jail complex have had to deal almost daily with incidents in which inmates threaten and harass them.

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The lawsuit also alleges supervisors have discouraged the women from filing complaints about the behavior, telling them witnessing the behavior is “part of the job.”

“They really do fear for their safety,” said attorney Marni Willenson, who represents the three officers. “Women have a right to go to work without looking over their shoulder fearing they’re going to be raped or aggressively exposed to genitalia.”

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Filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court – the lawsuit, which seeks class status on behalf of hundreds of women who work as corrections officers – comes in nearly two years after the women filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. This comes coincidentally, as just days after women lawyers at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office filed a similar lawsuit – alleging female staff also are subject to similar harassment from inmates.

Dart’s chief of policy, Cara Smith, said Friday that the sheriff’s office has tried to tackle the increasing number of incidents at the jail for close to two years but reprimanding measures have all failed.

Due to masturbating jail inmates, female sheriff’s office sues Prison Doug Berry/Getty Images
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