Former inmate claims she was assaulted in Sevier Co. Jail

Former inmate claims she was assaulted in Sevier Co. Jail

December 21, 2006

By SONU WASU
6 News Reporter

SEVIER COUNTY (WATE) -- A former inmate at the Sevier County Jail says she was brutally assaulted by five other inmates.  

Sheriff's officials say Megan Hudson, Vandy Morin, Krystal Kawalski, Michelle May Gunter and Kandi Lee Arwood assaulted a woman inside the cell they were sharing.  

The victim says she was sleeping on a mat on the floor of the overcrowded jail when the five women sexually assaulted her.

"I'm freaking out. I don't know what's going on. I'm trying to fight, scream, I couldn't because I'm gagged, trying to get loose," the alleged victim says.

She was serving a 40 day sentence for shoplifting. That's a misdemeanor crime. "I was there to pay my debt to society. For someone to take it upon theirself to hurt me, physically hurt me, scar me for the rest of my life...I'll never get over this or forget it."

The five women have now been separated. All are charged with rape. But sheriff's officials say they do not believe the assault was sexual in nature. They say the women thought the victim was hiding drugs on her body. They wanted the drugs.

Now the victim and her family want justice and answers from the sheriff. "What are they going to do to prevent this from happening to someone else? Someone wasn't doing their job properly," says Brenda Kolata, a relative of the alleged victim.  

"I'm lucky. I can sit here and talk to you. God only knows what those women would have done next," the former inmate says. 

The family wants to know why a misdemeanor inmate was put in the same cell as violent inmates.

The sheriff says the jail is so overcrowded they don't have an option.

All five women will be arraigned on the rape charges on January 5.

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