Jury Awards $300,000 to Woman Who Said Alabama State Trooper Sexually Assaulted Her

Gary Shannon Gates pictured in an undated photo taken from a Department of Public Safety publication (Alabama Department of Public Safety)

A woman was awarded $300,000 after a jury found her former boyfriend, also a former state trooper, was responsible for assaulting her while they lived together in Marshall County.

After the four-day long trial, a jury found Gary Shannon Gates liable for the assault and battery by way of physical abuse. While Gates was sued for false imprisonment, the jury did not hold him responsible for that count.

“We are pleased with the jury’s verdict,” Laura Ward’s attorney Leroy Maxwell Jr. said. “Laura Ward can now heal and continue advocating for rape and domestic abuse victims.”

“There is no tort for sodomy and sexual abuse. So the jury was given instructions to find in favor of Laura Ward if [there was] unwanted physical or sexual contact,” Maxwell explained.

According to court documents, Ward and Gates met in 2008 and began dating. Gates was kind and an encouraging partner, and the two moved into a home in Marshall County. Gates became “increasingly abusive” when they moved in together, court records state, escalating from verbal to physical abuse. In Sept. 2009, court records say the abuse turned sexual. “September 19th would mark the day that Gates became a monster and would mentally, physically, and sexually abuse Ms. Ward for the remainder of their relationship,” the complaint states.

The complaint details the first rape Gates’ then-girlfriend said she suffered: She was first beaten and then, after attending a friend’s wedding, Gates raped her for two hours and videotaped the incident. “His sexual depravity became terrifyingly apparent. Ms. Ward’s repeated pleas for mercy went unanswered. Gates produced a box filled with sexual paraphernalia which he used to rape and torture Ms. Ward,” the lawsuit says.

After that date, Gates began drinking more and would drink before going to work, where he was employed as a captain of Team 1 of the Alabama SWAT team, court records state. His daughter was also abused, and was removed from the home by her mother.

Also according to the complaint, Gates started threatening to kill Ward and suggested he would commit a murder-suicide. He would put his state-issued gun into Ward’s mouth as part of that threat.

Ward worked at an animal shelter in Arab near the police department, and knew several Arab police officers. The complaint states she would call their cell phone numbers for help, because she was afraid to call 911, and they would come to her home and talk to Gates. No official reports were ever filed from those visits. Ward also left for a hotel one night in the spring of 2010, but court records say Gates called the front desk so many times that a hotel employee called Arab police. An Arab police officer told Ward to go home, despite her fears that Gates would harm or kill her. “[The officer] was called to their home more than five times because of Gates’ abuse, and not once did [he] report abuse or attempt to free Ward,” the complaint says.

Instead of Arab police, Alabama State Troopers– who were co-workers of Gates– started responding more frequently to Ward’s calls, the complaint states. A state trooper responded to their home at one time in 2010, but “spoke with Gates privately and left the scene without investigating or checking on the welfare” of Ward, the complaint says.

In the spring of 2010, Ward said she was raped and beaten approximately every three days, often in Gates’ patrol car while he was on-duty or in an abandoned shed near Guntersville. Around that same time, the complaint said, Ward’s boss noticed she was covered in bruises. She confided in her boss about the abuse she suffered, and the boss notified police. The state trooper who responded to the call “forced Ms. Ward to write a statement that stated, among other things, that Ms. Ward lied about Gates abusing her and that her bruises were the result of her fitness regimen.” Several more times the woman tried to flee, but Gates’ threatened the people she was staying with, and Ward returned home.

In October 2010, records state, when the abuse “escalated to the level of torture.” Gates took his state-issued handcuffs and secured Ward to their bed for three days without any food and one bottle of water. He have her a gallon jug to use the bathroom in, and repeatedly raped, beat, and sexually tortured her. Each of those assaults were videotaped.

Following that incident, Ward’s lawsuit claims she was beaten and suffered a fractured cheek bone. According to the complaint, she did not leave home for several weeks due to her bruising, but did attend the SWAT team Christmas party. Officers and their families “pretended not to notice” Ward’s injured face, the complaint says. By this time, Ward had been forced to quit her job and sever ties with all friends and family.

In July 2012, Ward told Gates she was leaving for her home state of Wisconsin. While on duty, the lawsuit says, Gates pointed his state-issued gun at Ward and threatened her. Ward called a friend and said if she wasn’t in Wisconsin that day, to call the FBI and report that Gates killed her. “… no longer caring whether she lived or died, Ms. Ward left that day and went home to her family, ignoring the constant death threats she received during her long drive home,” the complaint states.

In October 2014, Gates was demoted after his estranged wife called police, saying he was at her home and threatening her. Documents state Gates had pulled his service gun from his pants, racked the gun’s slide, and pointed it at his wife and said he would kill her. Then, records say, he put the gun in his own mouth and threatened to shoot himself. Gates fled when he realized his wife called 911 but returned a short time later, after officers responded to her call for help. When Gates saw police, he fled and left his state vehicle.

When state troopers found him at his house the next day, Gates was taken to a rehabilitation facility to begin an alcohol treatment. An investigation into his actions state Gates committed domestic violence in the third degree and violated state personnel and Alabama Department of Public Safety rules and regulations, but Gates kept his job and was transferred out of Marshall County.

Gates resigned in June 2015.

Source: http://www.al.com/news/huntsville/index.ssf/2018/04/jury_awards_300000_to_woman_wh.html

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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