Nesconset Woman Sues County Over Alleged Sexual Abuse At Jail

A local woman is one of five female inmates, who claim the incidents occurred at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility.

Suffolk County has been slapped with a new lawsuit involving the Suffolk County Correctional Facility.

According to a Newday report, five women, including one from Nesconset, have filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that they and others were "sexually assaulted, harassed and degraded by a male correction officer" at the facility.

The women, Jamie A. Culoso, 24, of Commack, Sharon Watts, 51, Tara Lucente, 51, Michelle Atkinson, 36, of West Babylon and Catherine Andes, 29, of Nesconset-- were all awaiting trial at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead between April 2009 and August 2010 and are represented by Southold attorney Laura A. Solinger, according to the report.

The women allege misconduct by Joseph Foti, a correction officer at the time. They claim that his supervisors ignored their complaints or threatened them with retribution if they kept raising their voices about the matter, according to the article, which also states that more than 40 others were similarly treated but are fearful of coming forward with their stories.

The suit is not the first time the correctional facility has been in the news in recent months: In February, an inmate, , but officials said no accidents or other unusual events contributed to his passing.

Smith was being held in jail after a September altercation.

The death was the second in recent months at the facility; in June, the family of an inmate alleged he died because he choked to death before receiving medical care.

In early April, 2012, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of over 100 detainees in federal court against Suffolk County, claiming inhumane conditions at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead violate the constitutional rights of those detained there.

Citing a list of complaints - including overcrowding, raw sewage in sleeping areas and beyond, tainted drinking water, prolonged exposure to mold and vermin, and more - the lawsuit seeks to remedy conditions it cites as inhumane and award financial damages those exposed to the reported conditions.

“Nobody should be forced to live in the sickening conditions that exist in the Suffolk County jails,” said Amol Sinha, director of the NYCLU’s Suffolk County Chapter. “Raw sewage bubbles from floor drains, rodents and roaches infest the kitchens, black mold covers the showers – it shocks the conscience. That county officials have allowed such horrendous conditions to persist for years is simply shameful.”

Vanessa Baird-Streeter, spokeswoman for County Executive Steve Bellone, said since the matter involved pending litigation, "we are unable to comment."

Neither Sheriff Vincent DeMarco nor Suffolk County Sheriff's Office Chief of Staff Michael P. Sharkey immediately responded to a request for comment.


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