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$20 million sought after alleged jail assaults

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, July 30, 2012, at 3:12 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at 10:03 a.m.

Attorneys for inmates who say they were sexually assaulted by a Sedgwick County deputy while in jail are seeking $20 million from the county.

The amount is included in two notices of claims filed with the county commissioners by attorneys Kurt Kerns and Mark Schoenhofer. The county provided copies of the claims through a request filed by The Eagle under the Kansas Open Records Act.

The attorneys are alleging that six inmates were victimized by David Kendall, a jail deputy, who resigned in late June. Kendall, 21, faces 12 charges — 11 of them alleged sex crimes that reportedly occurred between April and June. The crimes alleged include aggravated criminal sodomy, a felony, and sexual battery, a misdemeanor.

The claims, which allege that Sheriff Robert Hinshaw was negligent for hiring and retaining Kendall, say unnamed witnesses in the criminal case “reported to counsel that Deputy Kendall propositioned them for sex as early as January and February of 2012.” The claims say Kendall was “permitted to work late at night as a roving deputy, where he was left alone with inmates, even after numerous sexual crimes against inmates and notice had been given to the sheriff that Kendall had engaged in illicit sexual conduct with an inmate.”

The claims also contend Hinshaw was negligent for failing to educate, train and supervise his staff on “how to properly investigate claims of sexual abuse by jail staff.”

One claim says, “Despite claims of sexual abuse being made by inmates months before Deputy Kendall’s arrest, sheriff staff failed to properly investigate and permitted Deputy Kendall to continue to work. A proper investigation would have revealed the sexual abuse, and would have stopped the continued abuse.”

Hinshaw said Monday that he couldn’t comment because of pending litigation and the ongoing criminal case.

One of the claims says that in April 2012, more than two months before one attack, Hinshaw and his staff received a complaint from an inmate that Kendall kissed and fondled him and “propositioned him for sex.” The Sheriff’s Office investigated but dismissed the complaint after finding it was unsubstantiated, the claim says.

It is not clear how many of the clients are included in the claims because the names were redacted by the county.

The notices of claim with the county is a first step toward a possible lawsuit alleging multiple civil rights violations and negligence.

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