A lawsuit alleging sexual battery that was filed against a former Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy, as well as Sheriff Lonnie Greco and his office, has been settled out of court.
The Sheriff’s Office issued a statement this week saying it has agreed to pay $48,000 to settle the case.
U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown signed off on the settlement Oct. 17.
The case, which would have gone before a jury this week, stemmed from an incident on Nov. 20, 2012, in which former deputy Elijah Gary arrested a 29-year-old woman. According to the woman, Gary sexually assaulted her after he arrested her.
She reported the incident to other deputies while being booked, and an internal investigation was opened.
Gary was arrested on Jan. 11, 2013, after DNA evidence linked him to the crime. He was booked with sexual battery and malfeasance in office.
He pleaded guilty on April 2 and was fined $2,500 and placed on probation for two years.
Gary had worked for the Sheriff’s Office since 2007; he was fired after his arrest.
The woman, whose name is being withheld because The New Orleans Advocate does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault, filed a federal lawsuit against Gary, Greco and the Sheriff’s Office in November 2013.
The suit alleged that Gary drove the woman to the Port Sulphur lock-up and took her into a bathroom. With the door closed, he exposed himself to the woman and then sexually assaulted her, according to court documents.
“As they left the bathroom, defendant Gary told plaintiff, ‘Don’t say anything!’ ” according to the lawsuit.
In response to the suit, Gary’s attorney said she “offered sexual favors” to Gary in return for her release.
The woman’s suit claimed that Gary assaulted her while “acting within the course and scope of his employment with the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office,” and that “she has a constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment ... including the right to be free from sexual assault and battery.”
The suit also claimed that Greco “knew of Gary’s violent propensities, particularly around females, but nonetheless retained him and allowed him to have contact with female suspects and/or arrestees.”
Greco, in a prepared statement, denied that claim.
“We launched an immediate and thorough investigation of this incident as soon as we learned of the allegations,” he said. “Internal policies and law strictly prohibited the behavior of the deputy, and there was no evidence which otherwise linked our office as a whole or any other employee.”
Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.