Jury awards woman $275,000 for forced sex acts
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A federal jury awarded a woman $275,000 after finding that a Logan County home confinement officer forced her to have oral sex with him several times while she was awaiting trial on criminal charges in 2009.
After a three-day civil trial last week, the jury found home confinement officer John Phillip Reed, 73, liable on allegations of intentional infliction of emotional distress and awarded the woman, April Tomblin Chafin, $125,000.
The jury also found that Logan County officials failed to properly train Reed and levied a $125,000 penalty on the County Commission along with an extra $25,000 in punitive damages.
"It was a hard-fought battle, but the jury saw through the lies of John Reed and justice was served," said Chafin's lawyer, Kerry Nessel.
Chafin claimed that in 2009, while she was on home confinement awaiting trial on grand larceny charges in Logan County, Reed summoned her to his office and threatened that he would tell a judge that she broke the conditions of her release if she did not perform oral sex on him.
The day before, Chafin had allegedly stepped out of range of her home to drink beer with a neighbor, setting off her monitoring device.
Chafin said she caved to Reed's demand and did not report the incident to police because she feared him. She said Reed forced her to have oral sex with him on two other occasions, issuing similar threats if she did not oblige.
"Ms. Chafin hopes that the verdict will clear her name and, further, that it will prompt Logan County officials to commence criminal charges against the man who orally raped her on three occasions," Nessel said.
During last week's trial, Reed passed off the accusations as part of a conspiracy Chafin and two other women invented to win money.
Reed allegedly forced one of the women, Jeananne Gilco, to have oral sex with him after he caught her driving without a license. Gilco is awaiting trial in her suit against Reed. The third woman, Sherry Frye, did not file her lawsuit before the statute of limitations ran out.
Reed's lawyer, Billy Jo Streyle, pointed out that all three women hired the same attorney, Nessel, to file lawsuits against Reed and the Logan County Commission. Streyle said the three women conspired together while in jail.
"We appreciate the jury's time and service in this trial," Streyle said. "However, Mr. Reed maintains his innocence and will exercise every avenue available to him to set aside the verdict and will continue to fight to clear his good name."
Lawyers for the Logan County Commission would not comment on the case.
Reach Zac Taylor at Zachary.Taylor@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.