Former inmate sues Mahoning County after alleged sexual attacks - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Former inmate sues Mahoning County after alleged sexual attacks by sheriff's deputy

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

A former Mahoning County Jail inmate is accusing the county, and the sheriff's office, of failing to act, after she reported alleged sexual assaults by a sheriff's deputy. 

Attorneys for Erin Hallas, a former Mahoning County Jail inmate, filed a complaint on Wednesday, accusing a deputy of sexual assault and battery, and alleging that the Mahoning County, particularly the sheriff's office intentionally inflicted harm upon her. 

According to the complaint, Hallas, who is a Boardman resident, was initially booked into the Mahoning County Jail on January 15, 2016, for drug-related charges. 

The complaint states that during her time in the jail a deputy, identified by the attorneys as Eric Harris, began to visit Hallas and put money on her phone account. 

Hallas alleges that Harris told her that he was the lead investigator on the case that had led to Hallas' arrest and indictment. 

The lawsuit goes on to state that while in an interrogation room at the FBI office in Youngstown, Harris said that he believed Hallas was a good girl who just needed help. 

According to the suit, Hallas was convicted of the drug-related offense and was transferred to a half-way house on Market Street in Youngstown. 

The complaint states that over the course of the rest of 2016 and much of 2017, Harris continued to contact Hallas, including when she was rebooked into the county jail. 

In October 2017, Hallas's lawsuit says that she was sentenced to undergo rehab at Breaking Point Recovery Center. 

Shortly after however, Breaking Point was raided by state officials and closed its doors. 

Hallas's lawsuit claims that she believed Harris could help her find a new rehab facility and help her to not break the terms of her probation. 

According to the complaint, Hallas called Harris who then picked her up from Breaking Point and took her to Kent. 

Harris allegedly told her that he would get a hotel room and stay with her. Hallas says that she refused to go to a hotel. 

At that point, the suit argues that Harris offered her a room at his Boardman home. 

The complaint says that "Hallas, in light of Harris' status as a law enforcement officer and out of concern for her community control status, agreed to accompany Harris to his home." 

At this point, the lawsuit states Harris entered the bedroom Hallas was staying in "jumped on her three different times and stated that he couldn't believe she was there and that she sexually aroused him and he wanted to have sex with her." 

The suit goes on to allege that Harris then requested she watch him pleasure himself and she refused. 

Hallas argues that the sexual advances were unwanted and that she "felt intimidated by Harris' official status." 

According to the complaint, several days later Harris sent her a picture of his exposed genitals. 

The following day, according to Hallas' attorney, Harris offered to give Hallas insurance money if she met him at the Mill Creek Park Golf Course parking lot. 

The suit says that Hallas got into Harris' car at which point he allegedly exposed himself to her. She reportedly yelled at the deputy and refused any further contact. 

In the complaint, Hallas says that she told her probation officer about the sexual advances. The probation officer reportedly recommended that she notify the sheriff. 

The suit claims that Hallas told Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene about the misconduct. The allegations say Sheriff Greene allegedly "told her not to contact an attorney and not to say anything to anyone." 

The complaint says Hallas' Eighth and Fourteenth Constitutional Rights. 

The suit claims that Hallas was traumatized "as a direct and proximate result of Harris' assault and battery". According to Hallas' attorney, Mahoning County failed to protect her civil rights in continuing to employ Harris without any remedial action. 

However, when 21 News reached out to Sheriff Jerry Greene on Wednesday, the sheriff said that an investigation into the allegations was conducted. 

According to Greene, the sheriff's office opened an internal investigation afterHallas came to the sheriff's office to voice her concerns. 

Greene says Harris was immediately removed from the FBI Task Force on which he served and will not be returning. 

Sheriff Greene told 21 News that the investigation determined that Harris did indeed act inappropriately, however, it was noted that all of the misconduct was done on Harris' own time, and not within the jail. 

However, Sheriff Greene says Harris was suspended for 80 hours without pay as a result. A union official signed off on the suspension on January 22. Harris is expected to serve the suspension beginning on March 4th. 

Hallas' lawsuit seeks damages of at least $1,500,000, or an amount determined to be appropriate by a jury. 

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