A former McLennan County Jail inmate with a long history of mental illness who claims he was sexually assaulted by another inmate has filed a federal civil rights and medical malpractice lawsuit against the county.
Kenneth Goff, who the lawsuit says is also known as John Herrington, is seeking unspecified damages in his lawsuit against McLennan County and two McLennan County Sheriff’s Office jail officers, Joel Barrientos and Billy Garrett.
The suit also names as defendants CorrHealth, the company contracted to operate the county jail’s medical facilities; and three CorrHealth employees: physician assistant Danita Loftis, nurse practitioner Deborah Sant’Anna and registered nurse Melissa Jarrett.
Goff, who filed the lawsuit Thursday in Waco’s U.S. District Court, alleges he was mistreated and not properly medicated, which led to hallucinations and an eventual suicide attempt. He claims he was sexually assaulted while in the county jail from May 2019 to August 2019.
The lawsuit says Goff was arrested for aggravated robbery, “a charge from which he was entirely exonerated and determined innocent, his arrest being based on mistaken identity.”
Waco attorney Mike Dixon, who represents McLennan County, said he had not seen the lawsuit Thursday and declined comment. Todd Murphy, co-founder and president of CorrHealth, did not return phone messages left at his Dallas office.
Goff had been taking medications for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression and seizures for six years prior to his arrest, according to the lawsuit.
“Despite plaintiff’s serious and extensive psychiatric history of mental illness, and without consulting his outside physician or psychiatrist, McLennan County, CorrHealth and medical staff, including Danita Loftis and Deborah Sant’Anna, ordered discontinuation of plaintiff’s prescribed medication on or about May 16, 2019,” the suit alleges. “Defendants did this despite being aware of Mr. Goff’s serious healthcare needs.”
Goff’s continued requests for his medications and mental health treatment were ignored, the suit alleges. His reports that he was receiving threats from another inmate also were ignored, leading to him being sexually assaulted by the inmate, the suit contends.
Goff tried to commit suicide after the sexual assault, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges jail personnel were made aware of Goff’s medical and mental health problems during the intake process. They noted the medications he was on and he told them he hears voices when not on his medication and had attempted suicide three times.
Goff told jail staff, “(When) I am on my medication, I am good. When I am not on my meds, I get in bad shape,” the suit states.
On May 2, 2019, Goff was taken to the hospital after suffering multiple seizures, the suit alleges. The dosage of his medication was increased for a time. However, on May 16, 2019, staff members denied him his seizure medication and reduced the dosage on an antipsychotic medication, both of which Goff had been taking for six years, the suit states.
“Plaintiff was told that the medication was too expensive,” the suit claims.
Later that month, jail records show that Goff’s mental state began to worsen,” the suit alleges.
Two weeks later, Goff reported he was seeing snakes and struck his head against the wall in an attempt to harm himself, according to the lawsuit. “At this point, plaintiff had been of his long-standing and required medication for approximately two weeks,” the suit states.
On June 3, 2019, Goff was charged with harassment of a public servant for cursing and spitting on a nurse. The suit said that charge was dismissed “due to information provided by a health care provider explaining that his conduct was the result of his long-standing health care issue and was not some criminal act.”
Goff also complained of a hand injury, which the lawsuit alleges was ignored by jail staff for almost a week before an X-ray revealed it was broken.
The lawsuit alleges jail staff responded to Goff’s needs with “deliberate indifference” and were deficient in providing for his “basic human needs.”