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Jury Awards $490,800 to Inmates Beaten by Guards

September 20, 1994

CINCINNATI (AP) _ A federal jury awarded $490,800 to two prison inmates who said they were beaten and clubbed by two guards while four others stood by and watched.

″It sends a message to all the corrections officers throughout the state,″ inmate Danny Lee Grimm said after the verdict Monday. ″You just can’t beat prisoners.″

Prison officials said they would appeal. If the verdict stands, the money will be held for the inmates until they finish their sentences.

Grimm, 37, was sentenced in 1989 to 4 to 15 years for robbery. Gary W. Bennett, 26, was sentenced to 7 to 25 years in 1987 for voluntary manslaughter.

Each won punitive damages of $150,000. Grimm got $75,000 and Bennett $115,800 for injuries and emotional distress.

″They got four innocent men who didn’t do nothing,″ said Chad Riggs, one of the four guards accused of watching the beating.

But the jury foreman, Daniel Asher, said the defendants ″just weren’t believable.″

″They were confused and they couldn’t keep their story straight,″ said juror Debbie Miller. ″They hung themselves.″

Assistant Attorney General Marianne Pressman admitted that Grimm and Bennett were beaten in September 1989, when they first arrived at the maximum- security Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

The two guards accused of beating them were both fired, convicted of disorderly conduct and fined $100. One guard that did the beating, Ron Tawney, settled a lawsuit last year for $2,000 and testified against the others.

He said the inmates were beaten with fists and clubs because they needed an ″attitude adjustment.″

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