A St. Clair County woman has filed suit against St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl Justus, the county and one of its jail corrections officers, alleging the officer sexually abused her.

Ashley Jones claims she was detained at the St. Clair County Jail from May 19 until Sept. 3. While she was imprisoned, Jones claims defendant Dan Chiarella, who was a corrections officer, sexually abused her, committed acts of sexual misconduct and threatened her.

Because of Chiarella's conduct, Jones suffered severe and permanent physical and psychological injuries, according to the complaint filed May 18 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

She names Justus and Chiarella for violating her federal civil rights by sexually abusing detainees, by failing to hire and retain officers and to create policies to protect detainees from sexual abuse, by failing to train corrections officers and by failing to supervise corrections officers, the suit states. In addition, they failed to create and enforce procedures and policies to deter sexual misconduct, the complaint says.

Jones also accuses Chiarella of assault and battery, saying he should have known his actions were not welcome and would be considered offensive.

Jones accuses all defendants of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

In the five-count suit, Jones is seeking a judgment of more than $250,000 and unspecified punitive damages, plus attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Jarrod P. Beasley of The Kuehn Law Firm in Belleville will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-246.

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