Federal lawsuit alleges sexual misconduct in Monroe County jail

MADISON — Barely a year after Monroe County’s insurer agreed to pay up to $13.1 million to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of a woman left with permanent brain damage after she attempted to hang herself at the Monroe County Jail in 2002, a second suit filed in federal court alleges a jailer sexually abused another psychology frail inmate.

The suit filed last week alleges that in 2001-02, former jail night shift supervisor Lt. David Schaldach had oral sex repeatedly performed on him by a female inmate who a jail nurse had recommended be placed on suicide watch. Schaldach warned the inmate not to discuss the sexual abuse with anyone or he would “come see her again,” according to the complaint.
“The suicide watch recommendation was written right on her (jail) records, and we believe Schaldach ignored it hoping she would commit suicide,” said La Crosse attorney Michael Devanie, whose client’s identity is being withheld because she is a possible victim of sexual assault.

In a deposition taken in 2006 in the suit that resulted in the $13.1 million settlement, Schaldach admitted to having the plaintiff perform oral sex on him in 2002 in a conference room at the jail.

Schaldach was charged earlier this year in Monroe County Circuit Court with one count of abuse and neglect of inmates in 2002. His plea and sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 17.

The plaintiff’s mental health deteriorated while she was in jail, Devanie said.

“She went in for relatively insignificant offenses but was sent to Winnebago Mental Health Institution for two years as her condition worsened in jail,” Devanie said. “I think it’s apparent that Schaldach targeted people under psychiatric care for this abuse.”

Although the county’s insurer, Wisconsin County Mutual, knew about the plaintiff’s allegations against Schaldach when it was settling the previous suit, it never made a reasonable settlement offer, Devanie said.

The suit names Schaldach, then-Sheriff Charles Amundson and then-Undersheriff John Cram as defendants, and seeks unspecified damages.

Monroe Corporation Counsel Kelly Sullivan Flock could not be reached for comment.

Current Monroe County Sheriff Dennis Pedersen said unlike Schaldach, his jail administrator and top administrators are all state-certified jailers.

source: http://www.lacrossetribune.com/articles/2008/04/09/news/z05jail09.txt

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