CHICAGO (CBS) — Some three dozen female jail guards have sued Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart for failing to stop daily occurrences of detainees masturbating in front of them, and allowing supervisors to discourage them from filing criminal charges against offenders.

The lawsuit is the third filed in recent weeks over what is described as a phenomenon that began roughly two years ago, and has continued almost unchecked since.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court Wednesday, seeks class status on behalf of hundreds of female guards and court services officers. It comes just days after three other female sheriff’s officers filed a similar lawsuit. Female attorneys and staff of the Public Defender’s Office earlier this month also filed a lawsuit, claiming that masturbating, menacing inmates are an almost daily part of their visits with prisoners at the jail and in courtroom holding cells.

The lawsuit states there were 350 “documented incidents” of indecent exposure by jail detainees in 2016, and that more than 200 have been charged so far in 2017.

Cara Smith, Dart’s director of policy, has said that the problem has defied measures taken by the sheriff’s office to discourage the behavior, and that legislation increasing criminal penalties for exposing oneself inside a jail or prison stalled last year due to opposition from the Public Defender’s office.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2017. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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