Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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Lawsuit filed over Dunn County Jail sex assault

County and sheriff among those sued by former inmate attacked by a jailer

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MENOMONIE — A civil lawsuit has been filed against Dunn County, the sheriff’s office and a former jailer who sexually assaulted an inmate in March 2016.

The inmate and victim, identified in the suit as Rachel Slabey of Menomonie, also filed the personal injury suit against Sheriff Dennis Smith, jail Capt. Brenda LaForte and three correctional officers noted as John Doe subjects.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Dunn County, seeks a jury trial. No court dates have been set.

Ryan J. Boigenzahn, 27, was found guilty by a Dunn County jury in May of felony second-degree sexual assault by correctional staff. In July he was sentenced to two years in prison and five years of extended supervision.

In the civil suit it notes Slabey, while incarcerated in the jail, was subjected to “cruel and inhumane treatment” and deliberate indifference to her safety and rights.

The defendants failed to provide humane and safe conditions of confinement, which created a substantial risk of harm to her and deprived her of her constitutional rights, the suit states.

The suit says this would not have happened if appropriate policies and training had been in place before and during the time Slabey was incarcerated. The Dunn County Jail had a duty to protect Slabey from reasonable harm and failed to do so, the suit states.

Boigenzahn had contact with Slabey in an impermissible and unlawful manner and intended to and did cause her harm, the suit states. She suffered “extreme and disabling emotional harm.”

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages as well as punitive damages. It also seeks to have mandatory trainings, changes to policy and implementation of guidelines to better protect the rights and safety of others under the care and supervision of the defendants.

Slabey at the jury trial testified she had been moved to one of the Huber dormitories after she was segregated from other inmates who along with her had been caught doing heroin in jail.

Boigenzahn came into the dorm  around 3 a.m. March 25, 2016, and stayed for about 40 minutes.

They were talking, and Boigenzahn ran a hand up one of her thighs, pulled on the long johns she was wearing and put his hand inside her pants, touching her private area.

Boigenzahn had told her the bunk she was in was not able to be seen by jail video, the woman said.

Boigenzahn did breathe heavier but continued a conversation with another inmate, who is now deceased.

Slabey, who was 24 at the time of the trial, testified that the jailer asked her if she was going to tell authrorities about the incident, and she said no. He gave her an extra breakfast the next morning.

She did not report it because she was released from jail shortly after the incident and did not know how to handle the situation.

Later, in June 2016, she was being interviewed about drug-related information when she told authorities in passing about being touched in jail.

Boigenzahn worked at the jail from April 2011 to the end of May 2016. He had been reprimanded for spending too much time with inmates, but nothing criminal, according to authorities.

Contact: 715-556-9018, pamela.powers@ecpc.com, @MenomonieBureau on Twitter

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