There's no doubt that private security guard Michael Arnold sexually assaulted a female prisoner shortly after she gave birth in 2012: He pleaded guilty to the crime and has been sentenced, albeit to no time in jail. However, a just-filed lawsuit maintains that blame for this horrible act goes beyond Arnold to the firm for which he worked, as well as Arapahoe County Sheriff David Walcher, whose office was responsible for the victim's safety. Photos, details and the complete document below.
The story was broken by 9News, which chose not to name the woman at the center of the case. But her attorney, David Lane, says she chose to file the suit under her name, Angela Weishoff, because she wanted to publicly decry the act of violence perpetrated during one of her most vulnerable moments.
Lane acknowledges that Weishoff has been in trouble with the law over the years: "She's had drug problems and has been in and out of jail," he says. But that hardly justifies what happened to her on September 22, 2012.
According to the suit, Weishoff began having contractions while in the custody of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department. As such, she was transported to Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree under armed guard. She gave birth there that night and her daughter was subsequently brought to her room to spend her first night there.
During her hospital stay, Weishoff wasn't under the supervision of ACSD personnel. The department contracts with private companies to handle such tasks -- in this case, C&D Security, for which Arnold was employed. He was assigned to her recovery room after the birth.
Weishoff had been given an epidural during her delivery, so she was groggy when he entered the room. But she remembers Arnold giving her the "ground rules" of what he expected from her before seguing into harassing comments such as "What is a good girl like you doing here?"
After that, the suit maintains, Arnold dimmed the lights, lowered the guard rail on her bed, opened her hospital gown to expose her body and unzipped his pants as he began kissing and touching her. He allegedly tried to put his penis in her mouth on two separate occasions before a nurse noticed the dimmed lights and entered the room, causing Arnold to quickly re-zip his pants.
Throughout this ordeal, Weishoff's daughter was sleeping in a crib nearby.
Marijuana Deals Near You
Arnold eventually was charged and pleaded guilty to sex assault -- victim in custody. During his sentencing hearing, Douglas County District Court Judge Vincent White unloaded on him in the following passage from the complaint:
Mr. Arnold, when I read this I was horrified. A woman who was pregnant, just had given birth to a baby and was sexually assaulted in a hospital. Sir, I don't know what you were thinking. I don't care that your defense is that it was consensual. I think that's horrific and very hard to believe. And I'll be honest with you, sir, if I had this open to the Court you'd be going to the Department of Corrections.
You were in a position of trust as a security guard watching a young lady who had a baby, and you sexually assaulted her. Just had a baby within hours. It's one of the most horrific fact patterns I've seen in the ten years on the bench, in terms of a position of trust. You were supposed to be there to guard her, and you assaulted her.
Nonetheless, Arnold was only sentenced to a ten-years-to-life probationary sentence: no jail time.
That Arnold wasn't put behind bars for what he did proved a major motivating factor for Weishoff when it came to filing the lawsuit, Lane says.
Continue for more about the lawsuit, including additional photos and the complete document. "She is so outraged," Lane points out. "She was going off to prison for minor drug possession, while he admits to sexually assaulting her when she's completely helpless. And he gets probation -- all because she's a prisoner.
"This shows you the respect the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office has when the victim of a crime is a prisoner," Lane adds.
Why did Weishoff wait so long to sue? "She got sent to prison," Lane explains, "and she was a psychological wreck at that point. She had been suicidal as a result of this. It took her about two years to get the courage up to come forward and file this complaint. But the key here is that he admitted that he did it. This isn't just some prisoner scamming for money. He pleaded guilty. He did it."
Those named in the suit include Arnold, the security company and Sheriff Walcher, in his official and individual capacities. In Lane's view, the targeting of Walcher is justified because Arapahoe County's policies played a part in the horrifying offense.
"The privatization of incarceration, to me, is an enormous problem," he allows. "She was in the custody of the Arapahoe County sheriff. She was not in the custody of Joe's Security Company. And if this sheriff wants to hire Joe's Security Company, the sheriff should be responsible for any damages that occur.
"I'm quite certain that the sheriff's department didn't do any background investigation on this particular guard, and it's the sheriff's obligation to protect the prisoners in his custody."
When questioned by 9News about the lawsuit, an ACSD representative declined to comment beyond noting that the person who committed the crime wasn't a department employee and the crime took place off-site. But to Lane, "that's not an excuse. She was committed by the court to the care and custody of the Arapahoe County sheriff, not to the care and custody of some fly-by-night security company."
The suit asks for "appropriate declaratory and other injunctive and/or equitable relief," as well as "punitive damages on all claims allowed by law and in an amount to be determined at trial."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Here's a look at Arnold's double booking photos, followed by the complaint.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.