Former Otero County inmate files suit saying she was sexually assaulted during transport
A woman formerly incarcerated at the Otero County jail alleges in a new lawsuit she was sexually assaulted in 2015 and 2017 by an inmate transport contractor who has been charged with sex crimes in other states.
This is the second complaint against Otero County alleging Eric Scott Kindley, 50, sexually assaulted an inmate. In 2018, another former female inmate, referred to in a lawsuit as Jane Doe 1, claimed Kindley had raped her several times in 2016 while transporting her from Washington state to New Mexico.
The more recent complaint against the county, filed last week in the U.S. District Court in Las Cruces, says a woman named only as Jane Doe 2 repeatedly was groped and threatened by Kindley, who owned and operated two interstate prison transport services.
According to the lawsuit, Kindley bragged to the woman “about raping other female transportees.”
Kindley is now in federal custody awaiting trial in two criminal cases accusing him of offenses in other states. He was arrested in June 2017 in California and indicted by a federal grand jury three months later on charges of sexually assaulting a woman in his custody with the use of a firearm. A second federal indictment followed in 2018, charging him with kidnapping and aggravated sexual abuse of a woman stemming from an incident in 2012 and sexual abuse of another woman in 2017.
A federal agent testified last year that Kindley likely assaulted more than 100 women over 15 years, according to an Associated Press report.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release following the 2017 indictment that Kindley was suspected of assaulting women who were handcuffed and restrained while driving them across California, Arizona, Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi and New Mexico. The statement said he was accused of threatening each of the women with his firearm and warning her he would “get away with his conduct because no one will believe her.”
The FBI, after starting an investigation into Kindley, interviewed Jane Doe 2 at the Otero County jail, her lawsuit says.
The suit contends the transport contractor was able to continue assaulting women in part because officials in Otero County, including jail Director Carolyn Barela and former Sheriff Benny House, failed to investigate him or act on reports of misconduct against him.
Barela referred questions to an Otero County attorney, who did not return calls for comment.
“They clearly were not doing any type of screening or supervision,” Carolyn Nichols, an Albuquerque attorney representing Jane Doe 2, said in an interview. She also said officials failed to oversee Kindley’s behavior while he was on the road, driving women with arrest warrants to the Otero County jail from other states.
Attorneys say Otero County had an inmate transportation contract with Kindley — who owned and operated Court Services Inc. and Special Operations Group 6 — dating back to the middle of 2015, and Lincoln County had contracted with him for services since at least 2010.
Lincoln County officials did not return calls to comment on when the county’s contract with Kindley was terminated.
In 2010, the recent lawsuit says, one of Kindley’s employees, who had a criminal history, also was accused of sexually assaulting an inmate during transport.
Jane Doe 2, who is requesting monetary damages and a trial by jury, alleges Kindley first made inappropriate comments about her and asked her to expose her breasts during a trip in 2015, when he was taking her to the Otero County jail after a parole violation. He also groped her on the side of the road when they stopped so she could urinate, her complaint claims.
She reported the alleged incident to several employees at the Otero County Sheriff’s Office, the lawsuit says, but was told, “there was nothing that could be done, because there were no physical injuries and she was not raped.”
Following another parole violation in 2017, when Jane Doe 2 was arrested in Mississippi, the lawsuit says, Kindley was sent to retrieve her. She initially refused to go with him and told Mississippi detention officials about the assault allegation, the suit says, but was told she had no choice.
Once alone in the vehicle, Kindley told Jane Doe 2 “he would be able to take his time with her during this trip,” the lawsuit says, adding: “He removed a bullet and said, ‘This one is for running away.’ He removed a second and said ‘this one is for being disrespectful.’ He removed a third and said ‘this one is for speaking out of turn.’ He removed a fourth bullet and said ‘this one is for good measure.’ ”
When Jane Doe 2 arrived at the Otero County Sheriff’s Office, she asked to talk to a detective, the suit says, but the detective “invited Defendant Kindley to sit in on the conversation.”