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Ten women suing Berrien County, jail deputies

Ten women have filed a lawsuit against four male Berrien County Jail employees alleging they used their position to demand sexual favors from them. The lawsuit was filed in federal court on April 5.

Amber Slaughter, Amber Green, Arielle Gantzer, Tamela Davis, Amber Jennings, Chandra Alana, Brittany Stanage, Cynthia Mills, Erin Rose and Rhonda Young filed suit against Sergeant John McCoy, Sergeant Brett McGrew, Deputy Keegan Trail, Deputy David Lee and Berrien County.

They are seeking economic and non-economic damages, exemplary damages, costs and attorney fees.

  • Amber Slaughter alleges Deputy Keegan Trail repeatedly requested sexual favors in exchange for money and other benefits while in the Berrien County Jail. She also alleges he coerced or forced her to submit to his demands
  • Amber Green alleges Trail repeatedly requested sexual favors in exchange for money and other benefits while in the Berrien County Jail. She also alleges he coerced or forced her to submit to his demands
  • Arielle Gantzer alleges Sergeant Brett McGrew repeatedly requested sexual favors in exchange for money and other benefits while in the Berrien County Jail. She also alleges he coerced or forced her to submit to his demands.
  • Tamela Davis alleges McGrew gave her the wrong medication and refused to let her know what medication she took. Davis says McGrew was able to coerce or force Davis to not notify anyone of this happening.
  • Amber Jennings alleges McGrew repeatedly requested sexual favors in exchange for money and other benefits while in the Berrien County Jail. She also alleges he coerced or forced her to submit to his demands.
  • Chandra Alana alleges McGrew repeatedly requested sexual favors in exchange for money and other benefits while in the Berrien County Jail. She also alleges he coerced or forced her to submit to his demands.
  • Brittany Stanage alleges McGrew repeatedly requested sexual favors in exchange for money and other benefits while in the Berrien County Jail. She also alleges he coerced or forced her to submit to his demands.
  • Cynthia Mills alleges Sergeant John McCoy repeatedly requested sexual favors in exchange for money and other benefits while in the Berrien County Jail. She also alleges he coerced or forced her to submit to his demands.
  • Erin Rose alleges McCoy repeatedly requested sexual favors in exchange for money and other benefits while in the Berrien County Jail. She also alleges he coerced or forced her to submit to his demands.
  • Rhonda Young alleges McCoy and McGrew repeatedly requested sexual favors in exchange for money and other benefits while in the Berrien County Jail. She also alleges he coerced or forced her to submit to his demands.

The plaintiffs allege this behavior was a violation of their rights protected by the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, an abuse of process, and the county was guilty of statutory gross negligence.

The lawsuit does not explain the allegations against Deputy David Lee.

The Berrien County Sheriff's Office released the following statement on April 21:

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the lawsuit discussed recently in the media, however, as of today the Sheriff’s Office has not been served.  An investigation was conducted in 2015 and there was no evidence of any alleged misconduct occurring inside the Berrien County Jail.  Sergeant Brett McGrew and Deputy Keegan Trail, two of the individuals named in the lawsuit resigned and Sergeant John McCoy was terminated due to their off-duty misconduct.  Deputy David Lee, the fourth named defendant, of whom no allegations exist against in the complaint, is still employed.  The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office denies any wrongdoing or prior knowledge of any of the alleged misconduct.  All Berrien County Sheriff’s Office employees are held to a high standard and we will continue to serve the residents of Berrien County with the highest degree of professionalism and integrity.  

No further comment will be made at this time due to this pending lawsuit.                                      

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