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updated: 1/30/2014 6:46 AM

Illinois county settles lawsuits by 3 former inmates

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Associated Press

BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- A southwestern Illinois county says it's not admitting any wrongdoing but will pay up to $2,000 to each of three former county jail inmates who sued over alleged guard abuse.

St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson tells the Belleville News-Democrat the county agreed to the payouts to save taxpayers the money it would cost to defend itself against the lawsuits.

Richard Miller, Kenny Wicks and Craig Gibson Jr. claimed in separate 2012 lawsuits that they were among 14 inmates beaten in December 2011 four days after a fight between inmates and guards at the jail in Belleville.

Watson says that while he dislikes the settlements and would prefer to test the veracity of the allegations in court, he understands why the payouts were approved.

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