A woman raped by the Milwaukee police officer who responded to her 911 call in July 2010 is set to receive a $2.5 million settlement in her civil rights suit against the city, according to records filed with the Common Council.
The city would have to borrow money to cover the payout, a move recommended by the city attorney’s office, according to a letter City Attorney Grant Langley and Deputy City Attorney Miriam R. Horwitz wrote to the council.
The two requested approval of the settlement “as recommended” by U.S. Magistrate Judge David E. Jones, who oversaw pre-trial mediation of the civil rights case, the letter says.
The Common Council’s Judiciary and Legislation Committee plans to discuss the settlement Monday, according to the meeting agenda. The full council could consider it next month.
If approved, the settlement would be among the largest paid by the city to a single person in recent history, falling between the $2 million deal with Frank Jude, who was beaten by a group of off-duty officers at a Bay View party in 2004, and the $3 million payment to Curtis Harris, left paralyzed after being thrown to the ground by an on-duty officer in 2003.
A series of potentially illegal strip searches by police between 2008 and 2012 yielded a $5 million payout to be divided among 74 African-American city residents and their attorneys.
The settlement in the civil rights suit resulting from the on-duty rape was reached late last year, but the proposed amount did not become public until recently, when documents were filed with the Common Council.
One of the woman’s lawyers, Robin Shellow, said her client is relieved that she won’t have to endure a trial. The woman, who has three children, hopes the settlement can help her provide a better life for them, Shellow said.
The woman was 19 when she was raped by now-fired officer Ladmarald Cates, who was criminally convicted in federal court of violating her civil rights by engaging in aggravated sexual abuse while acting under color of law. He is serving a 24-year prison term.
The Journal Sentinel does not name victims of sexual assault.
“One might say that it has been more than six years of waiting to exhale,” Shellow said in a statement. “In the words of Maya Angelou: ‘To leave behind nights of terror and fear and, rise into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear.’ Today, The City of Milwaukee and all of its feminist stakeholders — men and women — took the penultimate step to give my client her breath back.”
The city attorney’s office recommended contingent borrowing of the $2.5 million settlement amount, which would be paid back over 10 years and subject to $315,000 in interest, according to a fiscal impact statement.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Cates in December 2010 for lying and for “idling and loafing” because having sex on duty is against department rules.
At Cates’ criminal trial, the woman testified that he raped her in the bathroom of her home after she called police about neighbors throwing rocks through her windows. After the officer assaulted her, she was arrested. She told numerous police officers on the scene and at the District 3 station that she had been raped, but they did not believe her.
After about 11 hours, officers from internal affairs took her to a hospital, where a nurse found physical evidence she had been sexually assaulted and strangled, according to court records. Upon leaving the hospital, the woman was taken back to jail, where she was detained for several days.
She was not charged with a crime.
In 2011, a Journal Sentinel investigation revealed Cates had been accused of breaking the law five times before. Three of the previous allegations involved sexual misconduct — two with female prisoners and one with a 16-year-old girl. The alleged incidents date to 2000, three years after he was hired by the department.