Federal judge awards Nebraska woman $1M judgment against ex-guard who raped her

September 30, 2018

A federal judge Thursday entered a $1,060,000 judgment in favor of a woman and against the former jailer who raped her and other women in the Phelps County jail.

Louis Campana Jr. got a 20-month prison sentence for his crimes.

The woman, who lives in Furnas County, sued him as well as Phelps County, Sheriff Gene Samuelson and a jail supervisor in 2017, alleging they failed to prevent a jail employee from sexually assaulting her and other inmates at the county jail.

Last month, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the county, sheriff and jail supervisor, saying while in hindsight there may have been “certain failings,” there was no evidence they knew Campana posed an obvious risk of physical assault to female prisoners.

Campana didn’t contest the case.

In the federal lawsuit, the woman says Campana repeatedly sexually assaulted her in June 2012 while she was in the jail for writing bad checks.

Later that year, Campana was charged with eight counts of sexual abuse of an inmate involving the woman who sued and others. He pleaded no contest to two of the charges and was sentenced to 20 months to four years in prison.

Campana was released from prison in 2015.

In an order issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Gerrard entered judgment against him in the sum of $810,000 to compensate the woman for damages and $250,000 in punitive damages, as a penalty meant to deter others from doing the same.

Campana was last known to live in Grand Island. But his current address is unknown, meaning the judgment may end up being largely symbolic.

Prosecutors said he provided inmates with candy and pop, did favors for them and later demanded sex, saying the women owed him. He got away with it as long as he did by using part of the cell block that wasn’t monitored by video cameras.

The lawsuit alleged that Samuelson, the sheriff, and another jailer who hired Campana should have been aware of Campana’s sexual abuse of inmates.

A jailer had alerted the sheriff to suspicious behavior involving Campana and inmates in May 2012, but he was allowed to keep working at the jail until he was placed on leave in mid-July following an investigation.

Federal and state laws bar police officers or jail guards from having sex with anyone under arrest or in custody.

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