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Woman sues, claiming sexual assault in jail

HUDSON -- A former inmate in the St. Croix County jail has filed a lawsuit against the county and its sheriff, alleging she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a jailer, who later killed himself.

Jackie L. Peterson, 32, currently an inmate in the Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center, Union Grove, claims that on Nov. 4, 2008 Deputy Darren Hyland, who supervised cleaning activities, took her to an unoccupied dormitory to clean and while there used cleaning equipment to touch her breasts and drenched her jail uniform with water.

Then, says the complaint, Hyland confined Peterson in a maintenance closet where he touched her breasts and genitals and forced her to touch his genitals.

Then, continues the complaint, the deputy locked her in an unoccupied male dorm where he again touched her "intimate body parts" before releasing her from that dormitory and escorting her back to the female dormitory.

Peterson claims that before, during and after the sexual contacts, Hyland made repeated sexually graphic comments that "harassed, intimidated and offended" her.

The complaint also says that before the sexual contacts on Nov. 4, Hyland "engaged in a pattern of providing extra favors, food and privileges to female prisoners including ... Peterson and requesting/ intimating sexual favors were desire(d)."

Peterson says that six days later she cooperated with Sheriff's Department investigators and told them in detail about Hyland's conduct.

She said that on Nov. 14 jail administrators told her that Hyland had killed himself.

The suit alleges that jail administrators violated Peterson's constitutional rights and were negligent by failing to follow safety policies and procedures that would have protected her and by failing to provide appropriate personnel to prevent male jailers, such as Hyland, from "secreting (Peterson) away, holding her, detaining her and sexually assaulting her while in custody."

Hyland, 28, who joined the St. Croix County jail staff in May 2007, was on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged acts of misconduct at the time of his death, said Sheriff Dennis Hillstead in a news report at the time.