An Akron woman who has accused a former Summit County sheriff’s lieutenant of sexually assaulting her filed a lawsuit this week against her alleged attacker.
The deputy, however, fired back in court, claiming the woman is lying and that he is the one who has been harmed.
These latest developments in this volatile case happened before Antonio Williamson even has his day in court for the criminal charges filed against him.
The woman filed a lawsuit Monday against Williamson, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Steve Barry in Summit County Common Pleas Court. She claimed she suffered “humiliation, severe mental and emotional distress, pain and suffering, incurred expenses, including costs for medical treatment, counseling, and mental health services” and was physically injured.
Williamson filed a counterclaim to her suit Wednesday that denied her allegations and accused her of filing a false police report. He said he has suffered severe emotional distress and accused the woman of defamation.
Ian Friedman, one of Williamson’s Cleveland attorneys, is confident his client will prevail.
“The real motive in advancing these false allegations has always been solely to profit,” Friedman said. “This civil suit is therefore not a surprise. We are confident the juries in the civil and criminal cases will find the allegations to be lacking any credibility.”
Chris Nolan, an Akron attorney for the woman, said the civil suit was filed now because of a two-year statute of limitations for the alleged incident in March 2017. He declined further comment, pointing to the pending criminal case.
Williamson, 48, of Warrensville Heights, is charged with rape, sexual battery, gross sexual imposition and kidnapping. He was fired in April 2018 and is free on bond.
The Beacon Journal generally doesn’t name sexual assault victims.
Prosecutors say the 26-year-old woman reported to the Akron Police Department that a man in a Summit County sheriff’s deputy uniform offered to give her a ride to a hotel in his cruiser near the Woods Apartments in Akron on March 19, 2017. She said that while she was in the cruiser, the deputy forced her to perform oral sex on him. She identified Williamson as the deputy, according to court records.
Williamson, however, who worked a side job providing security at Woods Apartments, told Akron detectives he only talked to the woman, who was walking home after a fight with her boyfriend at Gatsby’s Pub. Williamson said he didn’t give the woman a ride and didn’t sexually assault or have sex with her, according to court records.
Besides sexual assault, the woman’s lawsuit points to a larger problem within the sheriff’s office. The suit claims the sheriff’s office has failed to: properly discipline deputies; to take adequate precautions in the hiring, promotion and retention of deputies; to forward to the Akron prosecutor evidence of criminal acts involving deputies; and to establish a system for addressing complaints of misconduct. The suit says this amounts to gross negligence under Ohio law.
Inspector Bill Holland, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said his office doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Her lawsuit seeks compensatory damages of more than $25,000, punitive damages exceeding $25,000 and attorney’s fees.
Williamson’s counterclaim seeks the same amount of compensatory and punitive damages.
Williamson was originally scheduled to go to trial in late February, but this was postponed because of several outstanding issues. A hearing on pending motions is scheduled for July 12 and the trial for Sept. 9.
The case was being handled by Judge Jill Flagg Lanzinger but will be decided by Judge Susan Baker Ross, who will assume Lanzinger’s seat on May 17. Ross, an Akron magistrate, defeated Lanzinger in the November election.
Williamson also is facing charges for misusing a law enforcement database. This issue will be decided in a separate trial from the rape case.
Williamson, who is African-American, is claiming discrimination by the sheriff’s office related to the database charges. He says other white deputies weren’t prosecuted for the same offense. A hearing will be held on this issue, but a date hasn’t yet been set for this or for the second trial.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.