Capitol riot: Attorney claims suspect was mistreated, forced to remain naked in local jail

A Champaign County woman accused of taking part in the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol was forced to remain naked in her cell in full view of others for days, and her injuries were not treated while she was in local custody, attorneys said in a court filing Saturday.

But jail officials in Montgomery and Butler counties, where Jessica Watkins was held, denied those claims Sunday.

Watkins, 38, and others are facing federal charges of conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property and unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds for their roles in the Capitol riot.

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Watkins’ treatment while in local custody is among several allegations her attorneys made in a motion to persuade a judge to release her to home confinement pending the outcome of her case.

“She had a documented injury to her arm, but it went untreated,” according to the court document. “She went on a hunger strike to get medical attention, but instead of medical attention, she was striped naked and put on suicide watch. Ms. Watkins was left naked in a cell with lights on 24 hours a day for four days in full view of everyone else.”

Watkins was originally booked into the Montgomery County Jail after her arrest in January. She was then transferred to the Butler County Jail, but is no longer listed as an inmate in a local jail. Her attorney’s court filing did not state the jail at which Watkins was allegedly mistreated.

“We have a medical staff 24/7,” Butler County Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer said Sunday. “If she expressed an injury, I’m sure our medical staff would have made an assessment on that.”

On Feb. 9, Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones said that Watkins was in his jail for four days and kept in a cell in the medical unit separate from the general population.

“She said she would rather be in an isolated area, because of her notoriety, I suppose,” Jones said.

Watkins was housed in the Montgomery County jail for a week after her Jan. 18 arrest. But the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office denied claims that Watkins was mistreated while she was in custody there.

“Our staff has investigated the claims that were recently made by Ms. Watkins and determined that the allegations that were described did not occur in our facility,” a spokesperson said Sunday.

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While Watkins was in custody in Montgomery County the jail booking sheet said she was classified as a male. The booking sheet also said “Keep separate” in a note, but Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office officials wouldn’t say whether she was kept isolated or with the general male population.

“We will not be discussing details about housing due to security concerns,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Christine Ton said on Feb. 11.

The U.S. Army said Watkins served from 2001 to 2003 under the name Jeremy David Watkins.

In response to questions about how the Montgomery County Jail handles transgender inmates, the agency provided copies of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act standards that the jail must follow.

“In deciding whether to assign a transgender or intersex inmate to a facility for male or female inmates, and in making other housing and programming assignments, the agency shall consider on a case-by-case basis whether a placement would ensure the inmate’s health and safety, and whether the placement would present management or security problems,” the PREA standard states.

It says the inmate’s own safety concerns “shall be given serious consideration,” and the inmate should be allowed to shower separately from other inmates.