A woman who accused a former Harrison County sheriff’s deputy and transport officer of raping her has filed a civil rights lawsuit against him as well as Harrison County and the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas.
The deputy confessed to the sexual assault and resigned from the sheriff’s office.
The lawsuit, filed July 25 in U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas, claims 53-year-old Roger “Chilly” Valentine assaulted the woman while she was being transferred from the Linda Woodman State Jail to the Harrison County Jail in March 2019. The suit notes that the woman, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, was released into the custody of the lone, male transport officer for the approximately four and a half hour trip more than 250 miles from the Harrison County Jail.
During the trip, Jane Doe claims Valentine continued to make several sexual advances to Plaintiff, stating that he “Bet she was ready to get home,” indicating that she needed sexual activity, and discussing his own various sexual exploits. When Plaintiff asked to use the restroom on the multiple hour drive, Defendant Valentine stopped at a gas station/convenience store in Corsicana that he knew had no surveillance cameras. Directly across the street was a larger gas station, which Defendant Valentine initially pulled into, but he then changed course and chose the smaller station that was not as heavily populated and which did not have surveillance.”
“Defendant Valentine and Plaintiff exited the vehicle, and Defendant Valentine followed Plaintiff into the gas station restroom. Plaintiff could not object to the officer’s actions, and further assumed he came into the restroom with her in order to remove her shackles so that she could use the restroom without falling. However, once in the restroom, Defendant Valentine cornered Plaintiff into a stall, and Plaintiff realized Defendant Valentine had opened his pants and exposed himself to her. Defendant Valentine then forced Plaintiff to turn around and proceeded to rape her. Plaintiff was shackled for the duration of the rape. Defendant Valentine then removed Plaintiff’s handcuffs, left, washed his hands, and as she exited the restroom, he handcuffed her again and returned her to the vehicle.”
Once back on the road, the suit claims Valentine continued to make sexually abusive and harassing remarks to the plaintiff.
“Plaintiff was in continual fear for the remainder of the drive, as Defendant Valentine continued to ask her if she “wanted a quickie” and “whether it was good.””
Once they arrived at the Harrison County Jail, the woman reported the sexual assault to a sergeant and was taken to the nurse’s office before being taken to a hospital in Tyler for a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination where DNA was collected. Valentine was immediately suspended from duty while the investigation was being conducted. During interviews with investigators, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office says Valentine confessed to the sexual assault. Evidence from Valentine along with DNA was also collected. He later resigned from his duties.
The suit claims Deputy Valentine made arrangements to ensure he would be the only one transporting her, and that Harrison County “failed to protect Plaintiff, and other female inmates, from the unwanted assault by Defendant Valentine or any of its employees by its failure to train or supervise the transport of female inmates to prevent incidents of sexual assault from occurring. Defendant Harrison County also failed to adequately screen potential hires or conduct background checks to ensure the safety of inmates.”
The suit also claims Valentine had previously been the subject of an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct while working for the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office. Supervisors there were looking into claims from at least one female employee that he had asked her to touch his groin area and grabbed her buttocks in February 2013 while on a jail elevator. Valentine resigned from that position before the investigation was complete and continued to work for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Associaton of Texas is also named in the suit because it “failed to take any action to investigate Defendant’s Valentine’s sexual misconduct.”
The lawsuit claims the woman was deprived of her civil rights on 11 counts, including abuse of power, negligent supervision, failure to warn or protect, failure to train or supervise, and negligent retention of Valentine as an employee after questions were raised about his previous alleged sexually inappropriate behavior. The suit also claims infliction of emotional distress and that both Harrison County and the Texas Sheriff’s Association are vicariously liable for Valentine’s actions.
The suit is asking for a jury trial and demands compensation and damages.