Former jail officer, City of Lexington face lawsuit over alleged sexual assault at Fayette County Detention Center

The two victims allege sexual assault due to systemic failures and improper staffing at Fayette County Detention Center.

LEXINGTON, KY – A lawsuit filed against a former corrections officer, Joshua Rogers, and the Lexington-Fayette government alleges that two victims were sexually assaulted inside the Fayette County Detention Center due to inadequate staffing and systemic failures.

The two victims filed the lawsuit in Fayette Circuit Court in June, naming Mayor Linda Gorton, former jail Director Lisa Farmer, current Director Scott Colvin, and former officer Joshua Rogers as defendants. The case was subsequently moved to federal court.

According to court records, both victims claim they were assaulted by Rogers on June 16, 2022, inside the detention center. The documents allege that around 2 a.m., the victims were taken out of their cells for kitchen duty despite the kitchen staff informing that they were not needed. The victims were placed in separate cubicles, where they allege Rogers assaulted them. They claim Rogers deliberately chose this location as he was aware that there were no cameras in place that could have captured the incident.

Rogers was arrested and charged with third-degree sodomy, to which he pleaded guilty in May. He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 17. Prosecutors have recommended a four-year prison sentence for Rogers, who will also be registered as a sex offender for 20 years and will have a 10-year interpersonal protective order filed against him. Maj. Matt LeMonds of Lexington Community Corrections confirmed that Rogers was formerly employed with the jail but has since been terminated.

The lawsuit cites “systemic failures” at the Fayette County Detention Center. (Fayette Circuit Court)

The lawsuit points to a “systemic failure” of the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) to properly staff the jail, prevent sexual assaults by staff members, and hold offenders accountable. The victims allege that their Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution were violated by the city, Rogers, Colvin, and Farmer. They claim that the abuse was part of a continuing pattern of failure to train and supervise employees, enforce proper policies to maintain inmate safety, and accuse Rogers of assault. The victims are seeking a jury trial and hoping to be awarded costs for attorney’s fees and damages.

LFUCG, Colvin, and Farmer filed a motion to dismiss in federal court on June 30. (US District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky)

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Farmer, and Colvin have filed a motion in federal court for the lawsuit to be dismissed. Farmer argues that her official capacity bars state law negligence claims due to official immunity and that the complaint fails to present a viable claim of municipal liability. The defendants maintain that they are not vicariously liable for Rogers’ alleged misconduct and assert that the victims’ complaint is an attempt to tie the allegations against Rogers to the jail to support their claim of municipal liability against Farmer and Colvin.

The issue of staffing shortages at Fayette County Detention Center has been longstanding. Public Safety Commissioner Ken Armstrong has noted a decrease in staff vacancies, from 124 in October 2022 to 92 as of June 5. Two new recruit classes and an increase in starting pay for corrections officers from $32,000 in 2020 to $50,348 in 2023 are believed to have contributed to filling vacant positions. Defense attorneys, however, have previously reported difficulty in meeting with clients due to the lack of staffing.

The mayor’s office, through spokesperson Susan Straub, stated that they could not comment on open lawsuits.

Top photo: Civil summons for Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton. (Fayette Circuit Court)

Victims’ names have been redacted in this article.