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Mexican raped in Montana jail getting $125,000 settlement

Associated Press

BUTTE – A southwestern Montana county government has agreed to pay $125,000 to a Mexican man who sued after he claimed he was raped in the Jefferson County jail in Boulder.

Jefferson County officials and Audemio Orozco-Ramirez have agreed to drop a federal lawsuit, The Montana Standard reported.

According to court documents, Orozco-Ramirez, was being held on civil immigration charges in October 2013 when he said he was raped in his jail cell. He spoke little English and could not report the incident for two days until he was transferred to an Idaho facility where a booking officer spoke Spanish.

The Associated Press typically does not name rape victims, but Orozco-Ramirez has talked publicly about his case.

He claimed in the lawsuit that the rape would not have occurred if Jefferson County had followed the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Jefferson County did not admit liability in the settlement.

“The amount of the settlement reflects the merit of the lawsuit and the seriousness of the county’s failure to protect Mr. Orozco-Ramirez when he was sexually assaulted in their custody,” said Orozco-Ramirez’s attorney, Shahid Haque-Hausrath of Helena.

After an investigation, the county determined that no crime was committed against Orozco-Ramirez.

Video of the jail cell released to Orozco-Ramirez’s lawyers included more than three hours of missing footage during the hours he says he was smothered and sexually assaulted.

County officials said in 2013 that the cameras in the cells automatically shut off during inactivity, but the county later produced additional footage that filled in some gaps.

Orozco-Ramirez is originally from the Mexican state of Michoacan and lived in Washington state before moving to Montana.

He now faces deportation. His attorney is trying get him permission to stay in the U.S. with a type of visa granted to crime victims who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and who cooperate with law enforcement investigations.

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