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Former inmate at Washington County Detention Center files suit

June 04, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

A former inmate who alleges she was raped in her cell at the Washington County Detention Center is seeking more than $5 million in a suit filed against the state, the county and a former guard.

In a civil suit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court on May 30, Jodi Abrams alleges she was sexually assaulted on March 9, 2001, by Michael A. Garner of Hagerstown, then a guard at the Washington County Detention Center.

Abrams, 33, alleges in the suit that Garner threatened to injure her if she didn't perform oral sex on him, and afterward raped her.

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Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said Abrams came forward with the allegations while Garner was under investigation in another case involving sex with an inmate.

Abrams gave police a pair of pants she said contained evidence of Garner's semen, but DNA tests excluded Garner as a match, Cirincion said.

Garner said Monday that "it's unfair" that Abrams was pursing the civil suit after he had been cleared.

Garner said he would consult with a lawyer.

Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades and Washington County attorney Richard Douglas refused to comment on the suit.

Garner resigned last year in connection with another case in which he admitted having sex with a female inmate.

In the suit, Abrams, of Haven Road in Hagerstown, contends she received "painful mental and emotional injuries."

The suit alleges that the state failed to properly train and supervise guards at the jail and that supervisors at the county detention center failed to protect inmates from sexual assault.

Abrams' suit seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages plus interest and costs from Garner. It seeks $1 million in compensatory damages plus attorney's fees, interest and costs from the state, and $1 million in compensatory damages plus interest and costs from Washington County.

Garner pleaded guilty in 2001 to one misdemeanor count of sexual intercourse by a guard.

Garner and a 28-year-old female inmate had sex in a medical holding area at the jail on March 17, 2001, according to Mades.

Garner in December was sentenced to 15 months in jail, with all but three months suspended. He was released in January after Washington County Circuit Judge Donald Beachley determined the goals of sentencing had been met.

Abrams pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Police said Abrams planned an armed robbery at the Cindy Dee Diner in Sandy Hook carried out by two men.

Abrams was sentenced to 20 years in prison, reduced to 15 months.

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