Prison guard linked to beating of female Florida inmate was subject of prior complaints, records show

A guard at the largest women's prison in Florida who allegedly beat a female inmate so badly in August that she was left paralyzed from the neck down had a history of complaints lodged against him by other inmates who claim he sexually and physically harassed them.

Despite the long history of accusations, the Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala never fired prison guard Keith Turner, who was promoted to lieutenant a few years ago, according to reports by The Miami Herald.

Attorneys for Cheryl Weimar filed a criminal complaint against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) and four unnamed male prison guards, claiming they beat her on Aug. 21 when she told them she was unable to clean a toilet at Lowell because of a pre-existing hip condition.

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Attorneys for Weimar amended her lawsuit on Friday to include the names of Turner and another guard, Ryan Dionne, who they say were involved in the attack.

Cheryl Weimar was left paralyzed from the neck down by the beating.

Cheryl Weimar was left paralyzed from the neck down by the beating. (Florida Department of Corrections)

The FDC did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment on the lawsuit. The incident is currently under investigation by the FDC inspector general's office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The four officers that were allegedly involved have been reassigned to posts that do not have contact with inmates.

In court papers, the Department of Corrections denied any allegation of wrongdoing.

"The defendant denies that its employees were 'angry, aggressive, and violent,'" the agency said in its response.

Prison system records reviewed by the Herald revealed a slew of complaints against Turner, beginning in 2009 when an inmate claimed that Turner and other officers harassed her because of her religious beliefs. The inmate said she feared for her life if released from confinement. That same year, an inmate said she was tackled by Turner for no reason.

In 2012, Turner was accused of handcuffing an inmate and saying, "Go ahead and complain. Give me a reason," the records showed.

A photo of Cheryl Weimar before her incarceration.

A photo of Cheryl Weimar before her incarceration. (Courtesy Ryan Andrews)

In 2014, a former Lowell inmate told authorities that several corrections officers, including Turner, would routinely exchange bootleg cigarettes for oral sex. The woman said she witnessed Turner receiving oral sex "three to four times" in a hallway, according to the records.

In 2015, Turner was accused of having sex with an inmate numerous times. Two years later he was accused of groping an inmate while making inappropriate comments. Another complaint that year said he sprayed noxious chemicals on an inmate for no reason, and another said he slammed an inmate's head against a wall, according to the records.

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In 2018, an inmate said Turner body-slammed her into a chair, and another accused him of dragging her across the compound. Two other inmates said he used chemical spray on them for no reason, according to the records.

In a complaint filed this year by a staffer upset that Turner had left an inmate outside in scorching weather for more than three hours, the worker said, "Everyone is afraid of retaliation from this [Lieutenant] and now is keeping their mouth shut about this particular situation."

It remains unclear if Turner faced disciplinary action for these allegations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.