Attorney: Delnor nurse was tortured, raped during hostage situation

Two nurses held hostage by a Kane County jail inmate May 13 at Delnor Hospital in Geneva are suing a guard, Kane County and the hospital's security firm, claiming they failed to properly monitor and secure the prisoner.

The two, listed as Jane Doe I and II, filed a civil-rights action in federal court, their attorney, Sean Murray, announced Thursday.

The suit also says that, contrary to reports given by the Kane County sheriff's department and the Kane County state's attorney, one of the nurses was injured. She was tortured, abused physically and mentally, and raped, Murray said, adding that the bullet that killed Tywon Salters also struck her.

Neither nurse has returned to work, he said.

Kane County Lt. Patrick Gengler, the sheriff's department's public information officer, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The Illinois State Police investigation into the case is still ongoing, he said.

A spokesman said the state's attorney's office does not comment on pending litigation and investigations.

What happened

Salters was in Delnor recovering from eating part of his plastic jail-issued sandals on May 8.

The Chicago man had been in the Kane County jail since mid-March when he was arrested in Elgin on a charge of stealing a vehicle.

According to the lawsuit:

• On May 7, Salters was brought to the hospital, after he swallowed hydrogen peroxide. He was "combative" with hospital staff and had to be restrained;

• Upon return that day to the jail, he was placed on suicide watch;

• On May 8 he ate the sandal and swallowed a liquid cleaner, and was again taken to Delnor;

• Around noon May 13, Salters asked the guard, Shawn Loomis, to remove a leg shackle so Salters could use the restroom. Afterward, he asked to remain unshackled because he would likely soon need to use the restroom again.

• Salters was allowed to sit on the edge of the bed, which a nurse questioned.

• Loomis was seated on a couch behind Salters' bed.

• Around 12:30, Salters obtained Loomis' gun, ran to an office and took the first nurse hostage, demanding her clothes, cellphone and car keys. The second nurse entered, and persuaded Salters to let her make a telephone call. She managed to activate the hospital's emergency alert system, then got Salters to take her to a first-floor decontamination room, figuring it would expose them to the least number of other people.

"The second nurse was nothing short of a hero," Murray said.

• Over the next three hours, Salters made her sit in the darkened room, holding a gun to her head. He beat and raped her, the lawsuit said.

• During the time in the room, two negotiators tried to speak with Salters through the door.

• When the SWAT team entered and shot Salters, the bullet also struck the nurse, the lawsuit said.

A pattern

According to the lawsuit, while Salters was in the hospital, he was guarded by one officer at a time. Nurses told the law firm's investigators they saw those guards using their personal cellphones and laptop computers, while sitting on recliners and the couch in Salters' room.

And after Salters escaped, Loomis hid in another room and did nothing to alert or protect hospital staff, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Murray said the point also is to get Kane County to fully learn what happened that day, and to get Kane County and the hospital's security firm to improve their practices.

Kane County knew Salters had been convicted once of a violent felony, was suicidal, and was facing time again in prison.

"That should have triggered some sort of heightened protocol within the Kane County sheriff's system while detaining Mr. Salters at the hospital," Murray said.

"However, the opposite happened."

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Attorney Sean Murray announces a lawsuit on behalf of the nurses held hostage at Delnor Hospital in Geneva. courtesy of Rich Hein/Sun-Times
Tywon Salters
  A hospital employee speaks with a police officer May 13 at the Delnor Hospital emergency room entrance during a hostage situation. John Starks/
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