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Former Walworth County jail inmate claims he was sexually assaulted by officer

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Ted Sullivan
August 5, 2008
— A former inmate in the Walworth County Jail is suing a former correctional officer, the sheriff and the county, claiming he was sexually assaulted during body searches while he was incarcerated.

Jonathan S. Reeves, 27, Grayslake, Ill., filed a lawsuit July 18 in federal court, accusing former correctional officer David W. Bickford, 51, a former Elkhorn resident, of sexually assaulting him twice in 2002.


Reeves claims Walworth County and jail officials were aware of Bickford’s sexual assaults against inmates dating back to 1991, but they allowed the assaults to continue, according to the lawsuit.


Other inmates complained about Bickford’s misconduct from 1997 through 2002, according to the lawsuit.


“Walworth County officials demonstrated ongoing deliberate indifference to Bickford’s behavior by failing to supervise and discipline him,” according to the lawsuit.


“Mr. Bickford had a known and notorious history of inappropriate sexual assaults against inmates and fellow correctional officers,” according to the lawsuit.


The county denies the allegations made against it in the lawsuit, Sheriff David Graves said.


A criminal investigation was launched as soon as Bickford was accused of sexual assault, Graves said, and Bickford was fired when charges were filed against him.


Bickford subsequently was convicted in February 2004 of three criminal charges of misdemeanor fourth-degree sexual assault stemming from his work in the jail, according to court records.


He also was convicted of the charge related to his sexual assault against Reeves, according to the lawsuit.


Bickford was sentenced to 90 days in jail, according to court records.


He currently lives in Clintonville, according to the lawsuit.


The lawsuit alleges a violation of civil rights and asks for money for physical and emotional injuries.


Reeves is asking for a jury trial, according to the lawsuit.


The county forwarded the lawsuit to the Wisconsin County Mutual Insurance Company, county administrator Dave Bretl said.


Reeves pleaded guilty in February 2001 to felony second-degree sexual assault of a child, according to court records.


He also was found guilty in April 2001 of felony bail jumping and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court records.


His Milwaukee-based attorney, Jim End, declined to comment.


Bickford could not be reached for comment.



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