Orange County Superior Court. Photo by John Schreiber
Orange County Superior Court. Photo by John Schreiber

A defendant was added Tuesday to the federal civil rights lawsuit against Orange County on behalf of a probationer who alleged improper treatment while in custody.

The suit was amended Tuesday to include Juan O. Sosa, an inmate in the Orange County Jail, who has been in custody awaiting trial for more than eight years, according to his attorney Richard Herman.

Sosa is allowed an hour a day in the jail’s “day room,” which is a violation of the law, the suit alleges.

The plaintiffs seek to add others who were jailed since Jan. 1, 2006. The number of people affected could exceed 1 million, according to the lawsuit.

Herman is also seeking to have the lawsuit receive class-action status demanding more than $1 billion in damages.

Shane Miles Wilkey, a probationer, sued the Sheriff’s and Probation departments last week, with complaints including a denial of a probable cause hearing within 48 hours, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and for “harassment, abuse and infliction of emotional distress and illness requiring hospitalization,” according to the lawsuit.

Jennifer Palmquist, a spokeswoman for the Probation Department, said, “We are unable to respond at this time due to the fact that this is in reference to ongoing litigation.”

According to the lawsuit, those affected by the jail’s policies have “the right to be free from restrictive, harmful ‘Pelican Bay’ conditions, including ’23-hour lockdown in cells,’ which is guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.”

Wilkey, a junior college student living with his mother in Orange County, was on three years of probation when he was arrested for violating probation with a visit to Las Vegas, according to the lawsuit.

Wilkey initially got into legal trouble when he “met a girl online who said she was 18, but wasn’t,” according to the lawsuit.

Wilkey allegedly had a panic attack while in custody in Orange County Jail on June 6, according to the lawsuit.

“He was taken to a nurse and requested medication (which he has used for his panic attacks),” according to the lawsuit.

“Medication was refused, mental health care was refused; if he suggested suicide, they would put him naked, alone, in a cell with no phone for 48 hours until a medical professional could see him all in violation of federal court orders…”

Wilkey alleged that his probation officer, Rodney Grantham, who is named in the lawsuit, was aware of the man’s stress-related panic attacks and “deliberately induces panic attacks by harassing and threatening (Wilkey),” according to the suit.

Wilkey required hospitalization because of one of the panic attacks, he claims in the suit.

Grantham arrested Wilkey “for his own sadistic pleasure,” the lawsuit alleges.

Wilkey alleges Grantham’s “harassment” is the result of a “vile, mean, psychotic, sadistic bully.”

The lawsuit alleges due process, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations. He demands at least $1 million in damages.

–City News Service

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *