Clark Co. sheriff responds to ‘night of terror’ accusations, posts alleged surveillance videos from incident on personal website

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Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel has responded — both in court filings and through posts on a website he created — to the allegations made by 28 female inmates who claim they were attacked by male inmates after a guard sold an access key to the men while on duty at the Jeffersonville jail last year.

The sheriff is disputing claims from two separate lawsuits that female inmates in his jail were subjected to a “night of terror” when male inmates gained access to female pods, stating instead that the incident was brief and that no female inmates were in “obvious distress.”

In July, eight unnamed individuals filed a lawsuit in the Indiana Southern District Court against Noel, former community corrections officer David Lowe and a group of “unknown jail officers” regarding an incident that allegedly occurred in October 2021 at the Clark County Jail. The suit came weeks after 20 female inmates, who were all named in the filing, filed a similar complaint.

Plaintiffs allege that one night in October 2021, Lowe sold two male inmates access keys to the interior of the jail in exchange for a payment of $1,000, which allowed the individuals access to “numerous restricted areas in the Jail, including Pods 4(E) and 4(F) that housed women.”

According to the complaint, “numerous” male detainees used the keys obtained from Lowe to gain access to the female pods, where they “raped, assaulted, harassed, threatened and intimidated” the plaintiffs as well as other women “for several hours.”

Lowe was arrested in October after he told a sheriff’s department investigator that he agreed to the deal with an inmate. He has since been charged with Level 5 felony aiding escape, Level 6 felony official misconduct and misdemeanor trafficking with an inmate. His case, State of Indiana v. David Jason Lowe, 10C01-2110-F5-000262, is scheduled for a jury trial on Nov. 1.

A second person, Jordan Parker Sykes of Henryville, who was an inmate at the jail at the time, was charged last month with felony and misdemeanor counts of theft for allegedly stealing keys and a radio from the sheriff’s department.

Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel

On Aug. 16, Noel filed an answer to the complaint stating some or all the plaintiffs failed to satisfy the Prison Litigation Reform Act by failing to exhaust their administrative remedies. However, Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch on Aug. 19 struck the affirmative defense, instructing the sheriff to “file a notice with the Court identifying the factual basis for the affirmative defense that some or all of the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies.”

In his response to the show cause order, filed Sept. 16, Noel asserted the jail has a “grievance procedure (that) consists of the inmate filing a grievance on the electronic kiosk in their living areas that is then responded to by the Jail staff.”

Noel claims to have checked the kiosk entries while the female inmates were incarnated after the date of the alleged incident and “has provided the required factual basis.” His response then mentions 20 women by name and outlines whether he believes they exhausted their administrative remedies under the PLRA.

The parties met for an initial pretrial conference on Sept. 20, with all parties except Lowe appearing. The parties agreed the two civil cases should be consolidated, and a telephone status conference is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 20.

A show cause order has been sent to Lowe, requiring him to respond by Oct. 5 as to why he shouldn’t be sanctioned for failing to appear.

In recent weeks, Noel has posted about the case on a website he created. Some of the posts include videos from allegedly inside the jail during the incident and video of alleged interviews with inmates.

“I started this website to shoot down the lies and deliver transparency to the community,” Noel wrote. “You deserve to know what our joint investigation with the FBI and the U.S. Marshals shows. In the coming days you’ll see surveillance footage and other evidence that’ll expose just how much you’ve been lied to.”

Noel, on his website, calls the accusations made against him and many of his deputies “blatantly false.”

In a video posted Sept. 14, Noel alleges an inmate involved in the incident tells a Clark County detective that a fellow inmate coerced her into lying about what happened “to help with a ‘major lawsuit.’”

“None of that happened,” the interviewee in the video states. “Not one person in one pod, and I’ll swear on a stack of Bibles, screamed rape, help me or anything, none of that … and you can look on them cameras and you can see that, you can see that.”

In an Aug. 18 video, Noel, speaking directly into the camera, said Lowe took a bribe and was fired and arrested, but there have been lies from “lawyers,” “political activists” and “criminals.”

An Aug. 16 post by Noel has both still photos and video with a time stamp of Oct. 24, 2021, showing male and female inmates intermingling just after 2 a.m. Noel alleges male inmates were only in the female pod for less than 40 minutes.

“… (R)eviewing the surveillance footage of the time the male inmates were in the female pods shows no one in obvious distress,” Noel wrote. “In fact, the surveillance footage shows male and female inmates talking in open areas and casually walking back and forth.”

Noel has also recently received attention after he was named on a list of hundreds of law enforcement officers with alleged connections to the Oath Keepers, a far-right antigovernment group that is being investigated for its role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In a statement to the (Louisville) Courier-Journal, Noel said “”I’m not now and have never been associated in any way with the Oath Keepers. Anyone who says differently is lying.”

Just because he’s on the list of names doesn’t mean Noel is, or was, involved with the Oath Keepers.

The Clark County Jail has been the subject of international attention in recent years, as it was featured in Seasons 1 and 2 of the A&E TV program “60 Days In,” where volunteers are incarcerated as undercover inmates and are tasked with obtaining evidence of possible illegal activities. According to A&E, inmates, guards and most jail officials aren’t aware of the undercover individuals.

The show highlighted issues of drug use and trafficking, prostitution and violence in the jail, and multiple corrections officers were fired as a result of the events witnessed by the participants, according to Business Insider.

Noel, elected in 2014, was sheriff when the 2016 show debuted.

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