Lincoln County ordered to pay millions to women abused by drug court officer

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LINCOLN COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – Earlier this week, a federal jury ordered Lincoln County to pay millions to four women sexually abused by a drug court lieutenant. It’s a case first uncovered by the Fox Files in 2011.

Seven jurors decided Lincoln County should pay $2.25 million to four women. The women were going through drug court and came out with horrific stories from their contact with former Lincoln County Sheriff’s Lt. Scott Edwards. The jury agreed Lincoln County failed to stop Edwards from preying on the women.

Edwards is now serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the abuse. Before he pleaded guilty, one woman spoke to Fox 2 News about the abuse. She asked to remain anonymous.

She claimed the only person who would listen was Don Griffith, a former teacher who fell into painkiller addiction and was also going through drug court.

“It took Don the recovering drug addict and several other brave young ladies, who had become victims of these sexual attacks,” Griffith said. “It took us to expose what we should have never had to deal with."

It was Griffith who helped set up his own sting operation with a woman who recorded a confrontation with the former lieutenant. On the recording, you could hear Edwards say, “I would love to sit here all night and do terrible thoroughly gross things to you."

According to attorneys speaking on behalf of the women, Lincoln County could’ve stopped it.

“Day in, day out, he was not being supervised and there were all these incredible things – he was going to women’s homes alone to check on curfew and was removing these young girls into their bedroom while their mothers were in the house and would assault them in their bedrooms,” said attorney Hugh Eastwood.

Attorney Bevis Schock said there were other warnings, like when Edwards spoke obscenely to women in public.

“You have to act. You have to take action when the – I understand one guy makes a little remark, ‘You’re looking good, baby,’ you let it pass,” Schock said. “But when it gets to obscenities in a professional environment, you know, that’s over the line. There has to be a line.”

With Edwards’ ability to visit women one-on-one, Schock said it should’ve been enough for authorities to dig deeper and monitor him more closely.

Attorney Mike Fagras also assisted in this case. A jury awarded three of the women half a million dollars each and the fourth with $750,000 because she has a permanent scar from the abuse.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office had no comment on this story.

The current administration was not in place at the time of Edwards’ abuse.

Follow Fox 2’s Chris Hayes on Twitter @ChrisHayesTV