Suit Alleges False Arrest, Assault in Jail : Law enforcement: Woman says deputies did not let her prove bench warrant was mistaken.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 35-year-old college student has sued the Orange County Sheriff's Department, alleging that she was wrongly jailed for four days and sexually assaulted by two inmates, the woman's lawyer said Friday.

The woman contends she was arrested on a bench warrant that mistakenly accused her of failing to appear in court.

"In fact, she had appeared the day before, but the bench warrant remained issued mistakenly," said Kathy Sink, assistant to Paul Sink III, the woman's lawyer.

"She told every officer she ran into that she had appeared in court, if they would just call the court and check it. She even told them the name of the judge and the court and nobody took time to verify it."

Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Ron Wilkerson declined to comment Friday, citing the advice of the department's legal counsel.

The woman, who requested her name be withheld because she had been sexually assaulted, is seeking more than $100,000 in damages in compensation for emotional distress and personal injuries.

In her lawsuit, the woman says she was forced to miss work, college classes and an exam that would have qualified her to enter a training program to become a firefighter--her career goal.

The woman said her 3-year-old daughter was traumatized by watching her being arrested and that she was unable to attend her daughter's birthday party, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court. The Sheriff's Department and county of Orange are named as defendants.

On May 19, the Orange resident was stopped by officers in Villa Park for driving with a broken taillight and then arrested when police discovered a bench warrant, Kathy Sink said. The warrant, she said, pertained to community services hours related to a previous traffic-related conviction.

The woman has been on probation since Sept. 10 for negligent driving, according to state Department of Motor Vehicles records. Her lawyer declined to comment whether the probation was related to the bench warrant.

The woman spent four days in jail and was released after the judge who presided during her May 22 arraignment verified that she had been mistakenly arrested, Kathy Sink said.

While in jail, the woman alleged that two inmates beat and sexually assaulted her, Paul Sink said. She suffered injuries to her nose, lips, arms and legs, he said.

"She has sustained emotional distress because of this," Kathy Sink said.

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