A federal judge in Chicago has given the green light to class-action lawsuits alleging indecent conduct by Cook County Jail inmates.
The lawsuits filed by female jail workers and public defenders contend a pattern of "masturbation attacks" by inmates created a hostile environment that jail administrators failed to address.
The lawsuits, which name Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart and Public Defender Amy Campanelli as defendants, allege the aggressive sexual behavior prompted many female employees to quit.
Monday's decision by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly may certify thousands of workers for class-action status, including any female assistant Cook County public defender who visited the jail over the past four years and most female sheriff's office employees.
Both Dart and Campanelli have denied the allegations. In previous court filings they claim they took appropriate steps to curtail inmates from exposing themselves.