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Published: Tuesday, 3/25/2008

Assaulted inmate sues county, sheriff

A South Carolina man and his mother have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Toledo against Lucas County Sheriff James Telb, the county, and the jail inmate who was convicted of sexually assaulting the man.

The man, now living in Aiken, S.C., asked for damages in excess of $125,000, claiming that the sheriff and the county were negligent in protecting him while he was incarcerated in the jail in March, 2006.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, was assigned to Judge Jack Zouhary.

According to the complaint, the then 18-year-old victim was in custody on burglary charges filed in Lucas County Juvenile Court when he was placed on the second floor of the jail. The complaint said he has "mental health problems and cognitive functioning disabilities."

On March 25, 2006, he was sexually assaulted by Melvin Cooper in the shower area, the complaint said.

Cooper, who was incarcerated on several drug, disorderly conduct, and soliciting misdemeanor charges, was charged with one count of rape.

Cooper, now 51, of 3141 Monroe St., pleaded no contest to and was found guilty of sexual battery in May, 2006, and was sentenced to one year in prison.

The lawsuit, filed by local attorneys Patricia Horner and Ken Phillips, claims constitutional violations, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress on the part of the sheriff and county.

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