GONZALES — An inmate in the Ascension Parish Prison has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Sheriff Jeff Wiley and his office over the teenager's rape while in custody early last year.
Jacob Westbrook, whose second-degree murder trial is set to begin Monday in the 2015 fatal stabbing of a St. Amant High School senior, alleges sheriff's deputies failed to obey a judicial order to keep him in protective custody, and instead exposed him to "the very substantial risk of serious harm" from his alleged attackers.
Filed Jan. 12 in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, the suit claims Westbrook had "sexual batteries" and "rapes" committed against him on two consecutive days in January 2017 by two 17-year-olds. Westbrook was also 17 years old at the time.
"During each violent attack, plaintiff screamed for help and from the pain. No deputies came to his aid. Moreover, at all relevant times, jail personnel failed to follow supervision of detainee policies and procedures and there was no video monitoring of this area of the jail," the lawsuit alleges.
The suit claims Wiley, Warden Paul Hall and others in the Sheriff's Office deprived Westbrook of his civil rights by failing to properly train jail deputies and failing to follow an Oct. 14, 2015, court order to place Westbrook in protective custody while he awaited trial.
GONZALES — As he entered the courtroom Wednesday, 16-year-old Jacob Westbrook, in handcuffs and ankle shackles, seemed dazed.
Juvenile court minutes show Judge Jason Verdigets of the 23 Judicial District ordered the protective custody in the same 72-hour court hearing where he also ruled that Westbrook, then a 16-year-old, should be tried as an adult in the slaying of 18-year-old Todd “T.J.” Toups Jr. on Oct. 10, 2015.
The lawsuit alleges Westbrook was at first placed in protective custody, but then deputies removed him and that was when he was attacked.
The suit added that Wiley, Hall and deputies failed to ensure that Westbrook received antiretroviral medicines after the attacks to protect against potential HIV exposure.
U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles has been assigned to the lawsuit, which was referred to U.S. Magistrate Richard L. Bourgeois Jr.
The lawsuit identifies Westbrook, who is now 18, by name as the sole plaintiff. The Advocate does not normally identify victims of rape and other sexual crimes. Aidan Reynolds, one of Westbrook's attorneys in the lawsuit, said Thursday evening that Jacob Westbrook and his parents agreed to his identification in this story.
The teen's father, Duane Westbrook, added Friday by text message that he son claims these kinds of attacks have happened to others in the jail, as well. "And Jacob wants justice," the father said. "And if this (is) the only way, then so be it."
Reynolds said that after the rapes, Jacob Westbrook was placed back into a private cell that keeps him away from other inmates, a status Reynolds says constitutes protective custody at the jail.
“He is in protective custody as we speak,” Reynolds said Friday. “The jail knows how to do it and, in fact, prior to the rape, he had been protective custody, and, for whatever reason, he was removed from protective custody and was exposed to other inmates that, ultimately, raped him repeatedly.”
Jarrett Ambeau, Westbrook’s criminal defense attorney, is listed as co-counsel with Reynolds in the civil suit.
GONZALES — A 16-year-old arrested in the stabbing death of a St. Amant teen on Saturday will be tried as an adult on a count of second-degree …
Wiley had not yet received a copy of the suit and was provided one Friday by The Advocate. The sheriff pointed out his office made arrests in the reported sexual assault last year after an investigation and also defended his office’s adherence to Verdigets’ order.
Wiley said that his office has a longstanding practice of “sound classification management,” including segregating 17-year-olds so they are not mixed with the general population.
“Regarding the commentary about the lack of protective custody, I and my office stand behind our policies and procedures, and we fully adhered to the court’s order,” Wiley said.
Westbrook, of Baton Rouge, is scheduled for a two-week jury trial on the murder charge starting Monday in Ascension in which he is expected to claim self-defense.
The lead-up to the case has featured complaints from defense attorney Ambeau that Wiley’s initial description of the attack in an Oct. 13, 2015, news conference was “grossly inaccurate.” Ambeau grilled Wiley on the stand in early 2016 in an unsuccessful bid for a change of venue.
Wiley has said that Westbrook hacked or stabbed at Toups with a steak knife several times before the fatal stabbing during an argument at Westbrook's girlfriend's home. Toups had come by to talk to the girlfriend's then 14-year-old stepsister about picking her up later to go to a homecoming dance.
Citing other witness statements, Ambeau has said it was Toups who was the aggressor and who lunged at Westbrook first, prompting Westbrook to stab once in self-defense. Ambeau and prosecutors have since been placed under a gag order by Verdigets, who is presiding over the criminal trial.
Ambeau and Tyler Cavalier, spokesman for the 23rd Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin, declined to comment Friday, citing the gag order.
Ascension sheriff's deputies publicized on Jan. 13, 2017, their arrests in a jailhouse rape, saying an inmate had reported the night beforehand that he was raped by "another inmate on two different occasions in the past week."
The sheriff's statement said then that Tre'Anthony James, of Baton Rouge, twice raped the inmate, but also accused Kaglin Green, of Donaldsonville, of assisting James in one of the rapes.
James is awaiting trial on two counts of second-degree rape and a count of criminal damage to property while Green faces a principal to second-degree rape charge. Both defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Westbrook's lawsuit also identifies Green and James as his attackers and names them as defendants but doesn't make a distinction about the role each one played in the attacks.
In an unexplained discrepancy, James' and Green's criminal charging documents and Westbrook’s lawsuit both say the sexual attacks happened on Jan. 15 or 16, 2017, two to three days after the contemporaneous sheriff's statement came out about the attacks at the jail.
Travis Turner, the criminal defense attorney for Kaglin Green, said Friday his client vehemently denies the lawsuit's allegations.
"We are also exploring the possibility of a countersuit for defamation of character," Turner added.
Allen V. Davis, James' criminal defense attorney, could not be reached for comment Friday.