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Monday, December 8, 2008
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Former Grant County, Kentucky Detention Center Officers Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations in Teenager Rape Case

WASHINGTON – Wesley Lanham, 31, and Shawn Freeman, 36, both former deputy jailers at Grant County Detention Center in Kentucky, were sentenced today on federal civil rights, conspiracy and obstruction charges. Lanham was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 3 years of supervised release, and Freeman was sentenced to 14 years in prison and 3 years of supervised release. Both defendants were found guilty of conspiring to violate the civil rights of a teenaged traffic offender by arranging for him to be raped by inmates. The jury convicted the defendants on all charges and specifically found that the defendants were responsible for the aggravated sexual assault carried out by the inmates.

"Although nothing can fully heal the wounds inflicted on this teenager, hopefully the defendants’ sentences today will bring closure to this young man and his family," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "His courage in coming forward helps to ensure that egregious acts such as this one will be appropriately punished, and facilitates the Justice Department’s efforts to ensure the integrity of law enforcement."

The case stemmed from an incident that occurred on Feb. 14, 2003, when the defendants, along with their supervisor, former Sergeant Shawn Sydnor, taunted an 18-year-old high school student who had been brought to the detention center on a speeding charge. The deputies teased the teenager about his physical appearance and told him that he would make a good "girlfriend" for the other inmates. The defendants then solicited a group of convicted felons housed in a general population cell to scare and "mess with" the teenager. After eliciting an agreement from the inmates, the officers left the teenager in the cell where he was sexually assaulted by the other inmates.

When the teenager’s father reported the incident and demanded an investigation, the defendants falsified their official reports relating to the treatment of the teenager.

A third defendant, former Sergeant at the jail, Clint Shawn Sydnor, previously pleaded guilty to civil rights and conspiracy charges and was sentenced earlier today to 90 months in prison.

This case was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Kristy L. Parker and Trial Attorney Forrest Christian of the Criminal Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.