Additional claims from former inmates expected
A Truckee jailer’s alleged sexual improprieties with female inmates could cost Nevada County millions of dollars as victims begin gearing up for a legal battle.
The county has already received two claims from the alleged victims of former Nevada County Sheriff’s Office employee Bobby “B.A.” Rutledge, accused of sexually molesting 11 women in the department’s Truckee substation, said Chief Deputy County Counsel Mark Rathe.
Rutledge was to appear in Nevada County Municipal Court last Thursday for a preliminary hearing, but the court appearance was delayed by more than a month (see related story). Two of the alleged victims of his sexual assault and an investigator were to testify, District Attorney Mike Ferguson said.
Though a separate action, the claims for damages being filed against the county are partly dependent on whether Rutledge is found guilty of criminal charges.
The 29-year-old married father has pleaded not guilty in earlier proceedings.
One of the claims seeks $750,000; the other meets minimum legal standards by saying the restitution sought exceeds $10,000, but doesn’t give a specific amount.
More claims are expected. Meadow Vista attorney Patrick Little recently ran an ad in the Sacramento Bee claiming to represent four victims and seeking more. He has not filed any claims yet.
Rathe argues the county’s legal liability for Rutledge’s alleged actions are limited because he acted outside the course and scope of his duties as a jailer.
Sheriff Troy Arbaugh placed Rutledge on administrative leave as soon as allegations arose, then fired him when he was arrested.
“I don’t know what more the county could have done,” Rathe said.
The claims allege the county was negligent in hiring and supervising Rutledge, although he has no prior public record of wrongdoing.
According to court records, Rutledge led women to a cell outside the general view of other department personnel, where he allegedly performed strip searches and touched the inmates.
Rathe said there is no evidence that anyone knew of Rutledge’s alleged activities, nor was there a breakdown at the supervisory level.
Questioning of Rutledge began when one of the women he allegedly tried to rape told her boyfriend, an Auburn attorney, who notified the sheriff’s department.
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Nevada County is now likely to remain in the red tier barring “extenuating circumstances,” thanks to changes to the state’s reopening blueprint announced this week.