LOCKPORT – Two female inmates who say a male laundry worker sexually harassed them in the Niagara County Jail are seeking to file damage lawsuits against the county.
Most recently Arlene Combs in State Supreme Court filed notice that she wants to make a claim against the county over the alleged actions of laundry worker Patrick Ryan.
That followed a May 17 notice of claim by Danielle McKean, another inmate who said she received similar treatment from Ryan.
Undersheriff Michael J. Filicetti said that Ryan resigned after an internal investigation and was not charged with any crimes.
County Human Resources Director Peter P. Lopes said that Ryan’s resignation took effect April 12. He had worked for the county since July 1989 and was earning $32,843 a year at the time of his departure.
Combs and McKean both are represented by Buffalo attorney Robert J. Maranto Jr., who did not return calls seeking comment. Filicetti and County Attorney Claude A. Joerg also declined to comment.
According to Combs’ court papers, she was bothered by Ryan between August and October 2012, when she was an inmate with a prized job in the jail laundry room.
“A job in the laundry room pays the best and gives you the most time out of your cell,” Combs said in a sworn affidavit. She said she was afraid she would lose the job if she complained about Ryan, but she finally did so, to a correction officer and two superiors. She was questioned March 25 as part of the internal probe. Combs charged that Ryan touched her “in an improper and/or sexual manner,” including an incident where Ryan allegedly rubbed his shoe against her three times.
She also accused Ryan of indulging in “hair flicking and other demeaning treatment,” as well as comments about her appearance. Combs said when she complained, “he would apologize by bringing me lotions, shampoo and food.”
McKean said in her claim that Ryan harassed her in February and March of this year, with comments and improper touching. She said she was punished when she complained, although the papers don’t say how.