Lawsuit claims S.C. prison guard sexually assaulted 7 women

(Source: AP)
(Source: AP)
Published: Apr. 10, 2020 at 9:55 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund recently awarded thousands of dollars to a former state prison inmate who says that she was one of several incarcerated women who were sexually assaulted by a correctional officer.

Public records show the woman, who is referred to in a lawsuit as Jane Doe to protect her identity, was given $40,000 in paid losses and more than $15,000 in paid expenses.

Jane Doe was one of two women to sue the South Carolina Department of Corrections back in 2017 alleging sexual assault and harassment by William Welch at the Goodman Correctional Institution in Columbia. However, the lawsuit states that there are at least seven victims in total.

In the lawsuit, Welch is accused of "repeated forced sexual assaults" that took place "on a daily and continuous basis over months and years."

Welch reportedly brought food and drugs into the facility to attempt to curry sexual favors from inmates. He also allegedly groped women against their will when they were alone in the prison greenhouse. One said that she was groped “too many times to count.”

The lawsuit states that SCDC supervisors "systematically failed to protect the women in their charge and turned the other cheek to ignore the abuse inflicted by Mr. Welch," noting that he was still employed by the agency when the summons and complaint were filed.

Even when SCDC looked into allegations against the guard, Welch bragged to others about passing a polygraph exam using drugs and different techniques to deceive the examiner, the lawsuit claims. The two women filed the lawsuit after being released from prison, but indicated at the time that they still feared retribution.

In a statement, SCDC spokesperson Chrysti Shain said in part that the agency “didn’t concede that SCDC or Welch himself did anything wrong,” adding that “the allegations were investigated by the appropriate parties at the time and no wrongdoing was confirmed.”

Welch is currently retired, Shain said.

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