MARSHALL — A former Harrison County sheriff’s deputy accused of raping a woman during a transport in March has denied allegations or “respectfully asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent” in response to a civil rights lawsuit.
In a separate response filed Aug. 20, Harrison County indicated that the deputy “admits that a sexual act occurred, but claims it was consensual.”
The plaintiff, listed as “Jane Doe,” reported she was raped by former transport officer Roger “Chilly” Valentine, 55, of Marshall on March 22 while he was moving her from the Linda Woodman State Jail in Coryell County to the jail in Marshall.
The woman filed a lawsuit against Valentine, Harrison County and the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas in July in Marshall’s federal court. Her civil suit accuses the county of failing to adequately train and supervise jail employees, including Valentine, and failing to conduct adequate screening when Valentine was hired.
The plaintiff, a Dallas County resident, is being represented by attorneys Timothy Dortch and Maryssa Simpson of the Potts Law Firm in Dallas and by Simpson’s sister, Michelle Simpson Tuegel of the Simpson Tuegel Law Firm in Dallas. Tuegel is known for her representation of gymnasts and athletes sexually abused by former Michigan State University and USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Harrison County and the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas are both being represented by Flowers Davis of Tyler. Judge Rodney Gilstrap is presiding over the civil rights case.
The plaintiff is demanding a jury trial and seeking $2 million in damages.
Tuegel said the case is especially disturbing since Valentine already was under investigation for sexual misconduct when he resigned from the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office before his employment with Harrison. She also said the transport process that was exercised that day — sending only one transport officer — is not in line with the typical procedure of moving people in custody.
The lawsuit blames the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas for failing to take any action to investigate Valentine’s sexual misconduct that arose from the Gregg County.
In his response, Valentine maintained his right to remain silent on the plaintiff’s claims that he handcuffed and shackled her inappropriately by standing closely behind her, rubbing the front of his body up against her back and buttocks.
He denied continuing to make sexual advances to the plaintiff during the first part of the drive and denied choosing a gas station with no surveillance cameras to let her use the restroom.
Valentine asserted his right to remain silent on the accusation that he followed the plaintiff into the restroom, cornered her in a stall, exposed himself to her and proceeded to rape her.
He denied that he continued making sexually abusive and harassing remarks to the woman during the rest of their journey.
Valentine asserted his right to remain silent on the claim that special arrangements were made by him to transport the plaintiff alone during the nearly five-hour drive.
Valentine says the woman is not entitled to damages, “and respectfully asserts his Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent as to any assertion of a sexual assault” by him.
He also is requesting a jury trial.
Harrison County response
Harrison County filed both a motion to dismiss itself from the lawsuit and also filed a response to the suit.
The county’s attorneys stated that the claims against the county should be dismissed because “plaintiff does not point to a formal written policy of the county” and does not not show indifference on the part of the sheriff or that his policy’s violated her rights.
The county denies knowing Valentine “was ever alleged to have committed sexual assault against other females,” its response says.
The county said it did not have a policy that two individuals must be present during all transfers and says that no policy prevented male officers from transporting women.
“Defendant denies the allegations that there was inadequate training and supervision, denies that any different training or supervision would have prevented the assault on the plaintiff and further denies, on information and belief, that any other women in the Harrison County Jail were harmed by Valentine,” the response states.
Harrison County also contended that “special arrangements” were not made by Valentine with other officers and supervisors so that he would be the sole transporting officer of female inmates during lengthy transports.
The county states that an inappropriate sexual act took place between Valentine and the plaintiff but denies any constitutional violation was caused by Harrison County.
Sheriffs’ Association response
The Sheriffs’ Association of Texas contends in an Aug. 22 response that it does not have authority, jurisdiction or a duty to investigate Valentine; to investigate, monitor, train or supervise Valentine; and investigate complaints against employees, subordinates or representatives of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office because it is a nonprofit organization, not a law enforcement agency. The association also denies the allegation that it failed to warn the plaintiff about prior complaints regarding Valentine.
Valentine resigned after an investigation was launched because of the inmate’s claims.
He has a criminal case pending in Navarro County, where the incident took place. He was arrested by Harrison County officials on March 27 on a Navarro County warrant for violating the civil rights of a person in custody by engaging in sexual activity.
The former deputy is out of jail on $200,000 in bonds.