Harrison County Faces More Litigation Over Alleged Jail Abuse

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Harrison County is facing yet another lawsuit over allegations of prisoner abuse at the jail. And attorneys working on the case say they're preparing to file two more suits in the coming weeks.

In his federal civil suit, John Aaron Vanderburg claims that on May 26th, 2005 while in the Harrison County jail as a pre-trial inmate, he was assaulted by corrections officers in the booking room. The suit alleges that jailers violated Vanderburg's civil rights, and that higher ups knew what was going on.

Vanderburg's attorneys, Robert Harenski and James Halladay, have already filed suit on behalf of three others who say they were beaten. Some of the alleged assaults were after the beating death of inmate Jessie Lee Williams.

"Even though elected officials knew that there was beatings going on at the jail, as evidence by the death of Jessie Williams, they did nothing to prevent it," Harenski said

"Justice. Justice for our clients and what happened to them and justice for community, so that this can never happen again. We want full and total reform within that jail system. It's falling apart, reforms have not taken place and if we have to take every single person that has been abused in that jail into federal court as our clients to sue the county and those responsible, we will," James Hallady said.

The lawsuit names Harrison County, former Sheriff George Payne, and imprisoned former jailer Ryan Teal, among others.

Harrison County Attorney Joe Meadows says his office has not yet received the John Vanderburg lawsuit.