A divided Michigan Supreme Court has ruled a woman raped in jail is not entitled to sue the sheriff or the county for violating her civil rights.
The woman was being held in the Wayne County Jail for failing to pay child support when she was harassed and raped by the only sheriff's deputy assigned to that shift. The deputy was fired, charged with a crime, and convicted of rape.
But the woman said the county and the sheriff's department also shared liability for the fact that she was attacked while in custody.
The Republican majority on the state Supreme Court ruled otherwise. The majority said the sheriff had no way of predicting the deputy's behavior, and the deputy had acted outside the scope of his employment. This decision could matter in future cases where employers might be held liable for the criminal behavior of their workers.
The Democratic minority on the court argued in its dissent that the decision undermines protections for victims and weakens Michigan's civil rights law.