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Case 1:11-cv-23765-JAL

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA Miami Division

Case No.: 11-23765-civ-JAL

DAWN MORRIS WILLIS,

v.

Plaintiff,

SHERIFF PAUL MAY in his official capacity as Sheriff of Okeechobee County, TOMMIE JOE BROCK, & JOHN DOES 1-10

Defendants.

/

AMENDED COMPLAINT 1

Plaintiff, Dawn Morris Willis, hereby sues Defendants, Sheriff Paul May, in his official

capacity as Sheriff of Okeechobee County (“the OSO”) for federal civil rights violations and

Tommie Joe Brock and John Does 1-10 for federal civil rights violations and sexual battery, and

conspiracy.

Introduction

1. This case is about a nightmare.

Over an eight month period between November

2008 and July 2009, Ms. Willis was used as a sex slave by T.J. Brock, then a Detective and

Sergeant with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office. For the first half of the relevant period,

Sheriff’s Deputy Brock forced Ms. Willis to have sexual intercourse with him and to perform

oral sex on him in exchange for Sheriff’s Deputy Brock not violating Ms. Willis’ probation.

During the second half of the relevant time period, Ms. Willis was detained in the Okeechobee

1 This Amended Complaint is being filed to omit/dismiss the County as a distinct defendant, and to rename Defendant Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office as “Sheriff Paul May in his official capacity as Sheriff of Okeechobee County.” All claims made against Sheriff May are filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

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County Jail.

Sheriff’s Deputy Brock, who was not assigned to the jail, would have Ms. Willis

removed and transferred to his office. On numerous occasions outside of the jail, he raped Ms.

Willis while she was shackled with handcuffs and leg irons.

Sheriff’s Deputy Brock’s rape of

Ms. Willis would not have been possible but for the assistance of other deputies.

2.

The

Okeechobee

County

Sheriff’s

Office

knew

about

Deputy

Brock’s

misconduct.

He was a veteran deputy and was long suspected of having sex with juvenile and

adult offenders in prison and providing alcohol and drugs to detainees.

In fact, Deputy Brock,

while on road patrol, detained Ms. Willis years earlier and offered to not arrest her for driving

under the influence if she would only have sex with him. In his words, sex with him was better

than jail. The OSO knew for decades that it had a problem officer, but did nothing. There were

numerous complaints about him and the OSO conducted internal affairs investigations into his

misconduct.

3. Ms. Willis informed prison officials about being raped by Deputy Brock but they

did nothing.

Finally, Ms. Willis, through a family connection, contacted the Federal Bureau of

Investigation on or about June 12, 2009. The FBI interviewed Ms. Willis concerning the sexual

assaults by Sheriff’s Deputy Brock and then notified the OSO. Deputy Brock’s last rape of Ms.

Willis occurred on July 2 or 3, 2009, after the FBI interviewed Ms. Willis. The next day, the FBI

again interviewed Ms. Willis.

Ms. Willis obtained DNA evidence the proved, beyond

peradventure, that Deputy Brock had sexual relations with her.

4. At all times throughout this nightmare, Deputy Brock was acting in his capacity

as an Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Deputy. At all times throughout and before this nightmare,

the OSO knew about Deputy Brock’s behavior. It is responsible for the violations of Ms. Willis’

civil rights.

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Parties, Jurisdiction & Venue

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5. Plaintiff, Dawn Morris Willis, is a female resident of Miami-Dade County,

Florida.

6. Defendant, Sheriff Paul May in his official capacity as Sheriff of Okeechobee

County (“the OSO”), is the sheriff of Okeechobee County and is the responsible party. All

claims asserted against the OSO are asserted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

7.

Defendant, Sheriff’s Deputy T.J. Brock, is a resident of Okeechobee County,

Florida.

At all material times, he was acting in his official capacity as a Deputy Sheriff.

He

wore a badge and was armed with his official service pistol. He was an employee of the OSO.

All claims asserted against Deputy Brock are asserted pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983, except for a

state law claim of sexual battery.

Deputy Brock was, at all times, an active-duty detective

sergeant.

As a detective sergeant, he had unrestricted access to the county jail and any inmate

housed in the jail. He was not, however, assigned to the county jail. He was terminated from the

Sheriff’s Department on or about July 8, 2009. He served as a deputy sheriff for approximately

23 years, most recently as the OSO’s homicide detective.

8. Defendants, John Does 1-10, are other deputies and employees of the OSO who

conspired with Deputy Sheriff Brock to rape and sexually batter Ms. Willis.

9. This Court has federal question jurisdiction because it arises under 42 U.S.C. §

1983.

10.

This

Court

has

supplemental

jurisdiction

over

the

Defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

state

claims

against

all

11. Venue is proper because all facts occurred within the Southern District of Florida.

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Facts Common to All Counts

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12. Several years ago, when Ms. Willis was approximately 21 years old, she was

pulled over by Deputy Brock, purportedly, on suspicion of driving under the influence. Instead

of arresting her, Deputy Brock took her to his home and, while she was under the influence of

alcohol, told him that she could avoid going to jail if she had sex with him. She complied with

his demands to avoid being taken to jail.

accordingly, was rape.

The sex was coercive and not consensual, and

13. In November or December of 2008, Ms. Willis, while detained at the Okeechobee

jail, met with Deputy Brock. He explained to her that he could help her with her pending case if

she would have sex with him and serve as a confidential informant for various investigations.

The sex was coercive and not consensual, and accordingly, was rape. The rape occurred in Jack

Hill’s office. Deputy Brock called it her “Christmas present.”

14. Ms. Willis was released on January 6 2009.

home to her mother’s house.

Deputy Brock drove Ms. Willis

15. Between January 6, 2009 and April 2009, Deputy Brock raped Ms. Willis at least

ten to fifteen times. Sometimes it was intercourse, other times she performed oral sex. During

this period, Deputy Brock was using Ms. Willis as a confidential informant on various official

sheriff’s department investigations.

By providing Deputy Brock with sex, and serving as a

confidential informant, Deputy Brock promised to keep Ms. Willis out of jail and/or agreed to

help her reduce her charges to avoid begin charged as a habitual offender.

16. Deputy Brock also promised to help secure favorable treatment for Ms. Willis’

husband, then in jail.

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17. In February 2009, Ms. Willis had sex twice with Deputy Brock on his office

couch.

18. On April 22, 2009, Ms. Willis arrested and booked in County jail.

Shortly after

that date, Ms. Willis had sex with Deputy Brock in his office.

19. On June 2, 2009, Ms. Willis was removed from County jail by a detention deputy.

The detention deputy escorted Ms. Willis to Deputy Brock’s office, where, while wearing

handcuffs and leg shackles, she was vaginally raped by and forced to perform oral sex on Deputy

Brock.

20. On June 12, 2009, Ms. Willis’ accusations against Deputy Brock were reported to

the FBI. FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Serna interviewed Willis. Ms. Willis provided panties to SA

Serna that she believed contained DNA evidence from Deputy Brock based on a rape that

occurred on or about June 2, 2009. Ms. Willis reported the incident to the FBI to prevent further

sexual abuse.

21. On July 2, 2009, after 5pm, Ms. Willis was taken from jail to the detective bureau

where she performed oral sex on him in his office. At the time, Ms. Willis’ father was ill and in

a nursing home.

Deputy Brock told Ms. Willis that she could use the phone to call her sick

father if she performed oral sex on him. Deputy Brock ejaculated inside Ms. Willis’ mouth and

ordered her to swallow his semen. She refused, and instead she spewed his semen onto a napkin

taken from his office.

She hid the semen stained napkin on her person prior to Deputy Brock

escorting her back to jail. Ms. Willis was crying, and other sheriff’s deputies and staff witnessed

her crying while she was escorted back to jail by Deputy Brock.

22. On July 3, 2009, SA Serna again met with Ms. Willis at the jail. She reported to

him the events that happened the day prior, and she provided to SA Serna the semen stained

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napkin. SA Serna turned over the panties and napkin to FBI Special Agent Pollard. They were

processed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Fort Myers Crime Lab.

FDLE

analysis confirmed that both the panties and the napkin contained Deputy Brock’s semen.

23. The FBI then reported this incident to the Sheriff’s Department. On Friday, July

3, 2009, Detective Faulkner interviewed Deputy Brock.

Deputy Brock was immediately

suspended with pay.

was credible and true.

Detective Faulkner’s investigation concluded that Ms. Willis’ testimony

Phone records confirmed that a call was placed from Deputy Brock’s

office to Ms. Willis’ father’s nursing home on the date and at the time alleged by Ms. Willis.

24. In October 2009, Deputy Brock was arrested and charged with (i) felony sexual

battery by a law enforcement officer and (ii) felony sexual misconduct between a detention

facility employee and an inmate.

25. Video surveillance confirms that Ms. Willis was transferred to Deputy Brock’s

office from jail.

26. In late 1992, Deputy Brock was investigated for allegedly providing juveniles

with alcohol and drugs in exchange for sex.

Upon information and belief, throughout his 23

years with the Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Brock’s misconduct was widely known.

Other

deputies knew that Deputy Brock was having inappropriate relationships with women and female

inmates.

Ms. Willis specifically complained to a jail official about Deputy Brock, but nothing

was done about her complaints.

Deputies saw Ms. Willis crying when leaving Deputy Brock’s

office. Deputies saw other women cry when leaving Deputy Brock’s office.

27. Upon information and belief, Deputy Brock’s rape of Ms. Willis was not isolated.

28. Deputy Brock’s actions could not have occurred without the assistance of other

deputies and employees of the OSO. Other employees transported Ms. Willis to Deputy Brock,

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assisted him with checking her in and out of the jail, and, perhaps most disturbingly, provided

“security” to allow Deputy Brock to engage in his misconduct without interruption.

conspirators are identified as John Does 1-10.

These co-

29. Deputy Brock was charged with sexual battery by a law enforcement officer and

sexual misconduct between detention facility employee and inmate.

He pleaded guilty but was

sentenced to probation only and was not incarcerated. For reasons that remain unknown, he was

not charged with rape, battery or witness tampering despite proof beyond any doubt.

30. Litigation hold letters were served on the County, the OSO and the State

Attorney’s Office on August 1, 2011.

Count I – Eighth/Fourteenth Amendment Violation Against the OSO (Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983)

31. Plaintiff incorporates paragraphs 1-30.

32. The Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause and the Eighth Amendment’s

ban on cruel and unusual punishment clause prohibit a person acting under color of state law

from raping and battering an inmate and a pretrial detainee.

33. To the extent Ms. Willis was an inmate serving a sentence following a conviction

or guilty plea, her claims are brought pursuant to the Eighth Amendment.

To the extent Ms.

Willis was a pretrial detainee, her claims are brought pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment.

The substantive analysis is identical.

34. Deputy Brock violated Ms. Willis’ Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights

when he raped and battered her. Other deputies and employees assisted Deputy Brock and knew

or should have known about Deputy Brock’s history of misconduct.

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35. The OSO condoned Deputy Brock’s actions and allowed the rapes to happen.

The OSO turned a blind eye to a problem deputy. They cannot now hide their heads in the sand

and claim ignorance.

36. Ms. Willis was harmed as a result of Deputy Brock’s violations of Ms. Willis’

constitutional rights. Ms. Willis was harmed as a result of the OSO’s negligent security at the

Okeechobee County Jail.

Count II – First Amendment Retaliation Against the OSO (Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983)

37. Plaintiff incorporates paragraphs 1-30.

38. Plaintiff had a First Amendment right to file a grievance with the jail and to press

criminal charges against Brock.

39. Plaintiff exercised her First Amendment rights when she filed a grievance with

the jail concerning the rape and abuse and when she initiated criminal charges against Brock.

40. Plaintiff was retaliated against by the OSO because she exercised her First

Amendment rights.

41. Plaintiff, in violation of established standards of conduct for jails, was not

transferred out of the facility that allowed the rapes to occur.

42. Plaintiff was placed in a specific holding cell at the entrance to the jail where she

was effectively on display for anyone entering the jail.

43. Plaintiff was also told that she could face charges punishable by life in prison.

44. Plaintiff was denied medical care and was denied access to a shower and daily

hygiene.

45. Upon information and belief, the OSO was displeased that Ms. Willis came

forward with her meritorious allegations about Deputy Brock and the OSO.

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problems raised by Ms. Willis’ allegations is the possibility that numerous criminal proceedings

involving Deputy Brock would have to be reopened and would entitle prisoners to habeas

petitions.

46. Ms. Willis was harmed as a result of the OSO’s retaliation for her exercising her

First Amendment rights.

Count III – Eighth/Fourteenth Amendment Violation Against Deputy Brock (Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983)

47. Plaintiff incorporates paragraphs 1-30.

48. The Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause and the Eighth Amendment’s

ban on cruel and unusual punishment clause prohibit a person acting under color of state law

from raping and battering an inmate and a pretrial detainee.

49. To the extent Ms. Willis was an inmate serving a sentence following a conviction

or guilty plea, her claims are brought pursuant to the Eighth Amendment.

To the extent Ms.

Willis was a pretrial detainee, her claims are brought pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment.

The substantive analysis is identical.

50. Deputy Brock violated Ms. Willis’ Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights

when he raped and battered her.

51. At all times, Deputy Brock was acting under color of law.

52. Ms. Willis was harmed as a result of Deputy Brock’s violations of Ms. Willis’

constitutional rights.

Count IV – Sexual Battery Against Deputy Brock

53. Plaintiff incorporates paragraphs 1-30.

54. Deputy Brock battered Ms. Willis when he raped her.

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55. Ms. Willis did not consent to being raped.

As a matter of law, Ms. Willis could

not have consented to being raped by Deputy Brock because of his position as a Deputy Sheriff.

56. Ms. Willis was harmed when Deputy Brock raped her.

Count V – False Imprisonment Against Deputy Brock

57. Plaintiff incorporates paragraphs 1-30.

58. Deputy Brock falsely imprisoned Ms. Willis when he removed or had her

removed from jail and took her to a private OSO office to rape and batter her.

59. Deputy Brock enlisted the assistance of other deputies and employees to keep her

falsely imprisoned.

60. Ms. Willis was harmed when Deputy Brock falsely imprisoned her.

Count VI – Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Against Deputy Brock

61. Plaintiff incorporates paragraphs 1-30.

62. Deputy Brock intentionally caused Ms. Willis severe emotional distress by falsely

imprisoning her and by raping her.

63. Ms. Willis was harmed as a result of Deputy Brock’s intentional infliction of

emotional distress.

Count VII – Conspiracy Against John Does 1-10

64. Plaintiff incorporates paragraphs 1-30.

65. John Does 1-10 are other OSO employees and deputies who assisted Deputy

Brock by knowingly allowing him to rape her, by assisting the rape by transporting Ms. Willis to

Deputy Brock, by securing Ms. Willis in the OSO office to allow Deputy Brock to rape her and

by otherwise turning a blind eye to Deputy Brock’s misconduct.

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66. Under Florida law, a conspiracy existed between Deputy Brock and John Does 1-

10.

Plaintiff will amend this complaint accordingly to add the other deputies and employees

during discovery.

67. Ms. Willis was harmed as a result of the conspiracy.

Prayer for Relief

Plaintiff seeks judgment against the OSO for compensatory damages in excess of

$1,000,000, attorneys’ fees and litigation costs, and judgment against Tommie Joe Brock for

compensatory damages in excess of $1,000,000, punitive damages in the maximum amount

permitted by law, attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Matthew Sarelson Matthew Seth Sarelson, Esq. Fla. Bar No. 888281 Max M. Nelson, Esq. Fla Bar No. 84532 SARELSON LAW FIRM, P.A. 1200 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1440 Miami, Florida 33131

305-379-0305

800-421-9954 (fax)

David John Glatthorn, Esq. Fla. Bar No. 307416 DAVID J. GLATTHORN, P.A. 506 Datura Street West Palm Beach, Florida 33402

561-659-1999

561-659-9075 (fax) glatt@msn.com

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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I HEREBY CERTIFY that on December 1, 2011, I electronically filed the foregoing document with the Clerk of the Court using CM/ECF. I also certify that the forgoing document is being served this day on all counsel of record or pro se parties identified on the attached Service List in the manner specified, either via transmission of Notices of Electronic Filing generated by CM/ECF or in some other authorized manner for those counsel or parties who are not authorized to receive electronically Notices of Electronic Filing.

/s/

Matthew Sarelson

Matthew Sarelson, Esq.

Service List Case No.: 11-23765-civ-LENARD

Matthew Seth Sarelson, Esq. Fla. Bar No. 888281 Max M. Nelson, Esq. Fla. Bar No. 84532 SARELSON LAW FIRM, P.A. 1200 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1440 Miami, Florida 33131

305-379-0305

800-421-9954 (fax) msarelson@sarelson.com mnelson@sarelson.com Counsel for Plaintiff

David John Glatthorn, Esq. Fla. Bar No. 307416 DAVID J. GLATTHORN, P.A. 506 Datura Street West Palm Beach, Florida 33402

561-659-1999

561-659-9075 (fax) glatt@msn.com Counsel for Plaintiff

John A. Makholm, Esq. MAKHOLM LAW GROUP

Once Capital Center 696 First Avenue North, Suite 205 St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

727-823-5100

727-823-5114 (fax) makholm@verizon.net Counsel for Okeechobee County

Garrett S. Elsinger, Esq. PURDY, JOLLY, GUIFFREDA & BARRANCO, P.A.

2455 E. Sunrise Blvd., Suite 1216

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33304

954-462-3200

954-462-3861 (fax) garrett@purdylaw.com Counsel for Sheriff May

Robert J. Watson, Esq.

ROBERT J. WATSON, P.A.

3601 S.E. Ocean Blvd, Suite 4

Stuart, Florida 34996

772-288-1880

rjwpa@yahoo.com Counsel for Brock

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