Jurors hear former jailer plead Fifth about sex with teen inmate

Attorney for Glanz, acting sheriff blasts lawsuit as 'shakedown'

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Attorney Scott Wood and former Sheriff Stanley Glanz walk out of the federal courthouse Friday after the first day of a civil trial. Glanz is a defendant in the lawsuit over alleged rapes in the jail. Photo courtesy NewsOn6
Attorney Scott Wood and former Sheriff Stanley Glanz walk out of the federal courthouse Friday after the first day of a civil trial. Glanz is a defendant in the lawsuit over alleged rapes in the jail. Photo courtesy NewsOn6

Each time the attorney asked Seth Bowers whether he had sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl in Tulsa’s jail, the former detention officer gave the same answer.

“I hereby invoke my right pursuant to the protections of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

“Did you have intercourse?” attorney Louis Bullock asked Bowers.

“I hereby invoke my right pursuant to the protections of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

“Did you fondle her?”

“I hereby invoke my right pursuant to the protections of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

“Did you have oral sex?”

“I hereby invoke my right pursuant to the protections of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Bowers gave that answer about a dozen times during his 2012 videotaped deposition, played in a Tulsa federal courtroom Friday. Jurors watched the video during the first day of hearings in a lawsuit alleging former Sheriff Stanley Glanz and Acting Sheriff Michelle Robinette violated the plaintiff’s civil rights.

The plaintiff, now 23, bowed her head while the video played, her long, brown hair shielding her face from the crowded courtroom. The woman’s lawsuit alleges she was 17 when Bowers repeatedly sexually assaulted her in the Tulsa Jail over a four-month period in 2010.

The Frontier is withholding her name because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault.

Bowers resigned from the jail and though the sheriff’s office recommended charges to the district attorney, Bowers was not charged.

Attorney Clark Brewster, representing Glanz and Robinette, told jurors the plaintiff’s claims were “preposterous” and a “shakedown based on lies.”

Attorney Clark Brewster leaves Tulsa's federal courthouse Friday. Brewster represents former Sheriff Stanley Glanz and acting Sheriff Michelle Robinette.
Attorney Clark Brewster leaves Tulsa’s federal courthouse Friday. Brewster represents former Sheriff Stanley Glanz and acting Sheriff Michelle Robinette. Photo courtesy NewsOn6

Attorney Dan Smolen said the plaintiff’s allegations would be backed up by records and other witnesses. He told jurors the girl could have been “my daughter, your daughter, your friend’s daughter, that for whatever reason, might be in the jail.”

The six men and three women on the jury listened intently, some taking notes, during opening statements and Bowers’ deposition.

The plaintiff claims Bowers repeatedly raped her, sexually assaulted her and forced her to perform oral sex on him in her cell. A teen jailed next to the plaintiff in 2010 alleges Bowers exposed himself and gave her “hugs.”

Girls accused of crimes in the juvenile system are sent to the county’s juvenile detention center while those arrested on more serious crimes go to the adult jail. However jail standards require juveniles to be segregated from adult inmates.

Because the Tulsa Jail has no designated pod for female juveniles, the sheriff’s office holds girls in the medical unit, where they are locked in their cells 23 hours a day.

U.S. District Judge John Dowdell overruled Brewster’s requests to tell jurors about the plaintiff’s criminal history, saying it’s not relevant. Records show a hearing in Tulsa District Court is scheduled in March to determine whether she is mentally competent to stand trial for possession of a firearm after a felony conviction.

The federal jury must decide whether Glanz and Robinette showed “deliberate indifference” to the plaintiff’s civil rights. Six of the nine jurors would have to agree that Glanz knew or should have known that girls in the jail’s medical unit were endangered by systemic problems such as “blind spots” without cameras in the jail and failure to follow policies.

In a 2014 opinion, Dowdell refused to dismiss the lawsuit. He concluded that “a reasonable jury could infer that Glanz’s and TCSO’s policy and practice of housing juvenile female inmates in a wing of the medial unit — which was not under direct supervision, had no cameras, and was frequently single-staffed — placed those inmates at a substantial risk of sexual assault by Jail staff.”

Attorneys for Glanz and the plaintiff sparred early Friday over whether Bowers could be called to testify in person. Brewster said there was no reason to show jurors the video of Bowers taking the Fifth Amendment.

“I spoke with Mr. Bowers yesterday. He’s prepared to come here,” Brewster said.

The amendment states that a person cannot be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.

Bowers was once a defendant in the federal civil suit but was dropped from it. His attorney and the plaintiff’s attorneys previously agreed to substitute a video of his deposition for live testimony.

Smolen said Bowers’ last known address is in Illinois. The court should not allow Bowers to “plead the Fifth and then waive it at the eleventh hour,” he said.

Dowdell agreed with Smolen, noting that Brewster could have raised the issue in pre-trial motions or hearings but waited until the morning trial began to bring it up.

While invoking the Fifth Amendment cannot be used against defendants in criminal cases, judges and juries in civil lawsuits can infer guilt when plaintiffs refuse to answer questions to avoid incriminating themselves.

As reported by The Frontier Feb. 14, Bowers resigned from the Sheriff’s Office in June 2010, the day before he was scheduled to take a polygraph related to the girl’s allegations. Two months later, Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris declined to file charges against Bowers.

Members of We The People Oklahoma — the group that organized a grand jury petition drive leading to Glanz’s ouster last year — demonstrated outside federal court Friday in support of the plaintiff and others who allege sexual assault.

Speakers included a sexual assault victim, religious leaders and the group’s founder, Marq Lewis, who has called on District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler to file charges against Bowers.

Demonstrators held signs stating “we stand with you” and “reveal the truth.”

Bowers’ attorney, Anthony Allen, said the demonstration was “an opportunistic ploy for this group to remain relevant.”

“Their focus is misdirected to my client, I believe, because they are ignorant of the developed facts specific to the claims against him in this case. … My client is no longer a party in this case because the claims against him individually were resolved far earlier in the case.”

Glanz was indicted in September on two misdemeanors, including withholding an investigative report about former Reserve Deputy Robert Bates. The former longtime sheriff resigned in November and a primary election will be held March 1 with the general election April 5.

Bates, Glanz’s campaign manager, bought expensive equipment and cars for the undercover drug task force on which the sheriff allowed his 73-year-old friend to serve. On April 2 last year, Bates shot and killed an unarmed man, Eric Harris, during a botched gun sting.

Bates claimed he accidentally shot Harris and meant to use his Taser instead. He was charged with second-degree manslaughter and has pled not guilty.

Jail allowed ‘predator to feast on his prey’

During opening statements, Smolen pointed to deposition statements by Glanz, who agreed that juvenile girls are the group “most vulnerable” to sexual assaults in the jail.

“He chose to house them in the absolutely most dangerous part of the Tulsa County Jail. This makeshift pod was never designed to hold juvenile girls,” Smolen said.

The medical unit is a clinic inside the jail with long hallways on either side.

Juvenile females are housed in a small group of cells at the end of the jail’s north hallway. Photos displayed during the hearing show a small TV sitting on a cart outside the cells.

Meal trays are passed through a “bean hole” in the girls’ metal doors and they often talk to each other through the hole. They shower in a bathroom with a window covered by paper.

Two years before the plaintiff allegedly was assaulted, a male nurse working for the jail’s medical provider was discovered “peeking” at a 15-year-old girl as she showered in the medical unit, records show. No charges were filed in that case and it’s unclear whether the nurse resigned or was fired.

A teen housed in a cell next to the plaintiff in 2010 claimed someone had moved the paper and watched her shower as well, court records show.

There were no cameras in the medical unit at the time of the alleged assaults and views of juvenile girls’ cells were blocked by partitions and locked doors, records show. The unit had no video cameras from 2005, when Glanz took over the jail, until 2011.

Oklahoma’s jail standards prohibit staff members from entering a juvenile’s living area or cell without backup. At least one staff member must be of the same gender as the juvenile except in emergency situations.

However, Brewster successfully argued Friday that jurors shouldn’t be told about that law because the plaintiff was charged as an adult even though she was a juvenile.

Records show about two months after she was released from the jail in 2010, the plaintiff received a deferred sentence after pleading guilty to assault with intent to commit a felony.

The Tulsa Jail holds about 1,700 inmates, who come through the medical unit for routine care such as blood tests and medication or for treatment of injuries and illness. Officers on duty there must escort those inmates in and out of the clinic, pass meal trays, check on inmates in the holding cells and fill out a variety of reports.

In her deposition, Robinette said TCSO policy requires the medical unit be staffed with two detention officers. Staffing the unit with one officer would be unsafe because it is so busy, she said.

However Robinette said the unit was often staffed with just one officer, up to 90 percent of the time during one month in 2010.

TCSO did not require Bowers or other detention officers working in the medical unit to have special training on dealing with juveniles. Meanwhile, boys held in the jail are supervised by specially trained officers and housed in their own pod with a common area allowing more freedom.

Smolen said the plaintiff suffered from depression, nightmares, post-traumatic stress and “lifelong, invisible scars.”

“Stanley Glanz and Michelle Robinette created an environment where a predator could walk in and feast on his prey,” he said.

In his deposition, Glanz said juvenile females are held in the jail’s medical unit “because it’s the only place we have.”

Girl told mom: ‘I need a lawyer’

In his opening statement, Brewster said by the end of the trial next week, jurors will realize that the lawsuit is “based on a series of outrageous lies.”

The plaintiff never reported her concerns to jail staff while she was held there and did not tell her mother either, Brewster said.

Brewster played a portion of one phone call between the girl and her mother that may indicate the opposite. In the phone call, the girl told her mother she had written a letter about something she couldn’t discuss on the phone, adding: “I need a lawyer.”

Records show Bowers was only assigned to the medical unit 12 times, meaning he could not have committed the dozens of assaults the plaintiff alleged, Brewster said.

However Smolen showed photos of medical logs showing Bowers went to the juvenile unit “twice as many times as he was assigned.” The former detention officer had about 120 contacts with the plaintiff during her last two months in the jail, Smolen said.
Brewster said the plaintiff was held in the medical unit for her own protection. He said in addition to detention officers making regular rounds, up to eight medical staff are also assigned to the unit.

“This is the unit that’s so secluded and hidden where I guess we rape the girls?” he asked, incredulous.

Brewster said the sheriff’s office thoroughly investigated when it learned from another girl that Bowers may have improperly touched the plaintiff.

“There might have been an instance where there was a hug. There might have been some inappropriate touching,” he said.

Glanz does have a history of misstating his agency’s record where rapes and sexual assaults are concerned.

In a letter to a federal panel studying rapes in jails, Glanz provided statistics showing that during 2008 and 2009, there were only two cases involving alleged sexual assaults by staff on inmates in the jail and no cases in 2010.

However, the information Glanz and Robinette provided to the DOJ was inaccurate. Their report excluded two allegations against Bowers in 2010 and at least 13 allegations of inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse, records show.

Two weeks after Glanz and Robinette testified before the Department of Justice panel, an adult female inmate was raped by a male inmate in the medical unit, records show. An internal affairs investigation found the detention officers violated multiple policies, including leaving their post, leaving the door unlocked, and failure to secure and supervise inmates.

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Ziva Branstetter

Editor in Chief / Staff Writer

Ziva maintains she was always too nosy to be anything other than a reporter. Though she's on a new adventure with The Frontier, she spent more than 25 years in the newspaper business, making politicians nervous and making sure readers got the truth. Contact: ziva@readfrontier.com or 918-520-0406.
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