A Mississippi sheriff repeatedly freed a woman’s abusive husband from jail on weekends, and the man tried to run her over, beat her unconscious and then drenched her body with sulfuric acid, the woman says in a lawsuit.
Felicia Robinson suffered multiple second- and third-degree burns in last year’s acid attack, and her medical care has cost nearly $900,000, she said in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.
The former Webster County sheriff, Tim Mitchell has since been arrested on unrelated corruption charges involving guns, drugs and sex with inmates. He resigned earlier this month after pleading guilty.
Robinson accuses Mitchell, Webster County and a former dispatcher of negligence.
Robinson says Mitchell never should have allowed her husband, Daren Patterson, to be freed on weekends to terrorize her. Patterson ultimately poured “Liquid Fire” drain cleaner on her, burning her face, neck, chest, arms, and leg, her lawyer wrote in the lawsuit.
County officials didn’t immediately return a call from The Associated Press Friday.
Violence and emotional abuse were chronic in Robinson’s marriage to Patterson, the lawsuit states.
“Throughout their turbulent relationship, she has vacillated from wanting his approval to wanting to be free from his oppressive behavior to being afraid for her very life — often experiencing these emotions at the same time,” the lawsuit states.
“Occasionally, Mrs. Robinson would stand up for herself,” it said. “Often, though, she would assume the position of his punching bag.”
Patterson had been on probation for a cocaine charge, and ended up in the county jail after being accused of assaulting a police officer.
The then-sheriff later designated Patterson a “trusty” at the jail, which gave him special privileges. He allowed Patterson to be released on weekends even after Robinson told police that her husband tried to run her over with the car the first time he was freed for the weekend, the lawsuit alleges. The Eupora Police Department investigated that event, wrote a report about it “and informed Sheriff Mitchell accordingly,” the lawsuit states.
Two months later, Patterson was granted another free weekend.
“During this unsupervised weekend pass, Patterson returned to Mrs. Robinson, who felt even more helpless than before,” the lawsuit states. Local law officers who knew of Patterson’s past violence toward her “were the very ones who had just set Patterson free. She felt trapped.”
That weekend, Patterson threw a beer at his wife and punched her in the face. He threatened to burn down her house and punched a hole in the wall of the home, the lawsuit states.
Robinson then called a dispatcher for help. But instead of sending a deputy to the home, the dispatcher gave the phone to another inmate to speak to Patterson, according to the suit.
After speaking with the inmate, Patterson “seethed with unbridled fury,” threw Robinson on the bathroom floor and punched her repeatedly until she blacked out, the lawsuit states. Then, her lawyer wrote in the lawsuit, he poured the acid-containing drain cleaner over her nearly naked body.