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Suffolk approves $300G settlement for 3 women detainees

Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead on Nov.

Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead on Nov. 5, 2015. Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk lawmakers approved a $300,000 legal settlement Thursday for three women who said a correction officer harassed and assaulted them sexually at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead.

Catherine Andes, Michele Atkinson and Sharon Watts, all of whom live on Long Island, will each receive $100,000 from the county, plus $2,000 from corrections officer John Foti, according to their attorney, Darnley Stewart of Outten & Golden in Manhattan.

In a 2013 federal lawsuit, the three claimed misconduct by Fonti while they were pre-trial detainees between April 2009 and August 2010 and charged that his supervisors ignored their complaints or threatened them with retribution if they kept speaking out.

“He totally took advantage of their vulnerability,” Stewart said in a phone interview Thursday.

The Legislative Ways and Means Committee approved the settlement. Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Noyack) recused herself because she knows an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Three other women who had accused Foti of wrongdoing had their cases dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired, Stewart said. That decision is being appealed, she said.

Foti, of Port Jefferson, did not return a call for comment. Suffolk County Attorney Dennis Brown did not return a request for comment.

Stewart said the county and Foti did not admit to any blame, though Foti resigned after an internal affairs investigation.

“I don’t believe they think it’s fair compensation and don’t think any amount of money would compensate them for what they went through,” she said. “They’re satisfied with the results and are looking forward to moving on with their lives.”

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