civil settlement

The civil case filed against Pierce Co. for alleged sexual assault in the PC jail settled last year

Pierce County paid a settlement of $45,000 in a civil suit alleging two sexual assaults at the Pierce County Jail in June and July of 2018.

The case of Jane Doe, an inmate at the jail, was settled in September 2019, but details of the suit just recently came to light during the sheriff’s race.

Former sheriff’s candidate Greg Stone raised the allegations to The Times during the campaign, but The Times had been unable to obtain copies of the settlement until June 26.

The Times has repeatedly asked for details regarding the settlement since May, but county officials have repeatedly said they “didn’t know” the details of the resolution of the case, and were only able to provide a copy of the case dismissal.

The newspaper eventually obtained a copy of the settlement after filing two Open Records Requests with Brown, Readdick, Bumgartner, Carter, Strickland and Watkins, LLP of Brunswick, the county’s attorneys on the suit.

The suit was filed in August 2018, shortly after the alleged assault in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Waycross Division.

Ms. Doe’s identity was not disclosed since she is the victim of an alleged sexual assault.

The suit alleges that Holden Leo Brant, a jailer at the Pierce County Jail, allegedly sexually assaulted Doe in her cell on at least two occasions while she was in custody on drug charges.  

Doe claims she reported the assault and later believed she had gotten pregnant and took the morning after pill as a precaution.

Brant was arrested shortly after the incident and was immediately fired from his position.

A criminal case against Brant is currently still pending in Pierce County Superior Court. Brant has been charged with two counts of sexual assault on an inmate. Brant reportedly rejected terms of a plea deal and has opted for the case to go to trial. The threat posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus) has postponed all but essential court services and proceedings since March.

The civil suit settled in September 2019 names Brant, Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett, Jail Administrator David O’Neal and John Does numbered 1-10, who were allegedly employees of the jail and sheriff’s office who were allegedly aware of the assault and did not report it.

As part of the deal, Ms. Doe agreed to dismiss the suit and release Brant, Sheriff Bennett, O’Neal and Pierce County from any future liability in exchange for the $45,000 payout. Ms. Doe also agreed to pay her own legal fees and court costs through the settlement awarded.

Ms. Doe was represented by Brent J. Savage Jr. of Savage, Turner, Durham, Pinckney and Savage in Savannah and F. Sean Simmons of Simmons and Associates in Waycross.

Brant was represented by Patrick T. O’Connor of Oliver Manor, LLP in Savannah while Bennett, O’Neal, John Does 1-10 and Pierce County were represented by Richard K. Strickland of Brown, Readdick, Bumgartner, Carter, Strickland and Watkins, LLP, as part of the county’s risk management coverage through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG).