N.Y. Attorney General settles lawsuit accusing Erie County Sheriff’s Office of ignoring sexual misconduct at two upstate jails

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State officials have settled a lawsuit accusing the Erie County Sheriff’s Office of failing to properly report and investigate eight claims of sexual misconduct between corrections officers and inmates at two upstate jails, the New York Attorney General’s Office said Friday.

Per the agreement submitted to Erie County Supreme Court, the sheriff’s office must swiftly report and investigate sexual abuse allegations in accordance with state law, appoint an independent monitor to conduct an audit of past incident reporting and submit an annual audit for the next three years, state officials said.

The sheriff’s office must also provide specialized training for investigators and other staffers on how to properly investigate sexual abuse in correctional settings, and work with the New York State Commission of Correction on how to improve existing policies and procedures.

Attorney General Letitia James sued the sheriff’s office in March on behalf of the commission, accusing Sheriff Timothy Howard of failing to readily report to the commission the allegations of sexual misconduct at Erie County Holding Center and the Erie County Correctional Facility.

On Friday, James said the office must now “finally confront the harsh realities of its correctional facilities and take real measures to end the widespread sexual misconduct perpetrated by its correction officers.”

“The policies that the sheriff’s office will now be required to put in place will go far in preventing the misconduct that jeopardized the safety and wellbeing of incarcerated individuals for far too long,” James said in a statement.

“New Yorkers deserve transparency, accountability, and honesty from their law enforcement agencies, and this agreement ensures that they get it.”

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