A former inmate at the Chillicothe Correctional Center has filed a lawsuit against ex-guard, Edward Bearden, alleging he sexually assaulted her more than 52 times.
The woman was an inmate at the prison from May 2015 to November 2017 for a non-violent offense. She was accepted into the cosmetology program in October 2016 and was assigned to retrieve cleaning supplies from a storage closet.
The lawsuit alleges that Bearden followed her into the closet and forced her to perform oral sex on him. The assaults continued while she was in the one-year cosmetology program.
Bearden worked at the Chillicothe Correctional Center from November 2008 to September 2018 and has been accused of sexual assault by a total of five different women. No criminal charges have been filed against him.
The four other lawsuits filed against Bearden also alleged that he sexually assaulted the women in utility closets and other areas with no cameras.
Karen Backues Keil, one of the women with a lawsuit against Bearden, claims that he raped her more than 20 times. She said that when she reported the incidents to her mental health counselor John Thomas Dunn, he also sexually assaulted her.
Jesse Lerner-Kinglake, a spokesman for Just Detention International, said accountability lies with leadership in the state prison system.
“It seems that there are accountability issues and that leadership needs to take a real hard, close look in the mirror and figure out how did this happen?” he said. “That is five women who had to endure potentially life-shattering violence against them and it’s the job of the leaders of that facility and institution to stop it.”
“I think there is a systematic issue in that prison specifically, and I think it is not being addressed and I don’t know how many lawsuits it’s going to take for people to take it seriously,” Jenifer Snow, one of the lawyers working on the lawsuits, said. “It blows my mind.”
The Missouri Attorney General’s office, which represents Bearden and Precythe, decided not to comment on the lawsuit.