Texas

She was jailed in Texas for a small amount of marijuana. Then a guard raped her, lawsuit says

The Harris County, Texas Jail
The Harris County, Texas Jail YouTube screenshot

Emma Lopez-Pound, a 26-year-old mother of two was pulled over near her home in Katy, Texas on March 1.

Now — in a federal lawsuit naming the arresting officer, the City of Katy, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales, his sheriff's office and unnamed sheriff's deputies — Lopez-Pound says that traffic stop was just the start of a nightmare she's still living.

After she was booked into the Harris County Jail that day, she alleges that she was raped by one of the jail deputies on duty. Gonzales tweeted Friday that his office was also investigating the alleged sexual assault.

"We will take swift, strong action if the evidence supports it," Gonzales' tweet read, in part.

According to KTRK, Lopez-Pound admitted to Katy Independent School District Police Officer Daniel Sanchez that she had a small amount of marijuana in the car when he pulled her over. The lawsuit alleges that Sanchez called in a drug-sniffing dog and found about a half-gram before telling her, "unfortunately, you're going to jail today."

lopezpoundcomb.jpg
Emma Lopez-Pound, left, during a recent television interview; Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales, one of five defendants in Lopez-Pound's civil rights lawsuit. KTRK video screenshot; Harris County Sheriff's Office

Sanchez alleged that the traffic stop, which the lawsuit says took place near the intersection of Breezy Hill and Mason Road, happened within a school zone. That is another point of contention in the suit, though.

Wrongful arrest is one of six counts in the lawsuit, with Lopez-Pound's lawyer Michael J. Edwards claiming that Sanchez pulled Lopez-Pound over outside the school zone. If that were the case, Sanchez could have written Lopez-Pound a citation and released her for a small-time pot charge instead of taking her to jail.

Once she was booked into jail, though, the "unfortunate" turn became nightmarish, Lopez-Pound told the KTRK.

I’m working on this #exclusive story for #abc13 at 6. A young woman, (questionably) arrested for having a tiny amount of pot while driving near a school, is allegedly raped in the Harris County Jail. As of tonight, the jailer has not yet been identified. My story—>> http://abc13.com/3425908/

Posted by ABC13-Miya Shay on Thursday, May 3, 2018

"I was moved to a holding cell by myself," Lopez-Pound told the station. A few hours later, a jailer entered her cell. "After he asked me to get up and put me up against the wall and handcuffed me, he pulled my pants down and pulled his pants down and I froze. I asked him not to do it. He said, if I said anything, he would do it again."

Her alleged attacker was not named in the complaint.

The sheriff's office told the Houston Chronicle that officials were first notified of the alleged sexual assault the next day, March 2, after Lopez-Pound went to an area hospital upon her release from jail and reported the alleged rape. Since, she's been on a regimen of medication for possible exposure to HIV, and she still doesn't like to go outside without someone accompanying her.

"I feel like when I look at my body, it's not mine," she told the newspaper. "I feel like I'm losing my mind."

A rape kit was collected at the hospital as well.

A 2013 U.S. Department of Justice Study found that one of the Harris County Jail units had one of the worst sexual assault rates in the country.

California state worker Dennis B. Kellogg was named in three sexual harassment lawsuits as he worked for six different departments, including State Parks, Corrections and the DMV.

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