Woman sues county commissioners, claims assault by caregiver

The Butler County commissioners have approved a $95.9 million general fund budget. The general fund — which is taxpayer supported — finances things like salaries and benefits as well as capital improvements and buildings. STAFF FILE/2015

A developmentally disabled woman from Hamilton has filed a lawsuit against her caregivers and the Butler County commissioners alleging she was sexually abused by a man who has pleaded no contest in a related court case.

Peter Reist, 60, was arrested on Dec. 22 and charged with four counts of third-degree felony sexual battery. Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Heile said Reist pleaded no contest last week to two counts of fourth-degree gross sexual imposition.

Heile said Reist is out of jail on electronic monitoring after posting $10,000 bond. He will be sentenced July 29 and faces up to 36 months in prison. She said the disabled woman was an adult over the age of 21 and is no longer in the Reists’ home. She said it is “pretty hard to say” how many times he abused her.

Reist’s attorney, Rick Hyde, said his client pleaded no contest as opposed to guilty so the plea cannot be held against him in the civil lawsuit.

RELATED: 28 people indicted in Butler and Warren counties

“Worst-case scenario for us is 36 months, best-case scenario is probation. Hopefully we get the best-case scenario or somewhere in between,” Hyde said.

Robert Acciani of O’Connor Acciani and Levy filed the civil suit on behalf of the woman against Peter Reist, Theresa Reist and the county commissioners. It alleges he engaged in sexual activity with her and without her consent on or about March 21, 2019 through May 16, 2019.

The lawsuit says she “suffered temporary and permanent injuries; severe emotional distress; has endured great pain and suffering of both mind and body, including embarrassment, humiliation and fright and will continue to endure pain and suffering in the future and has suffered damages for the lost enjoyment of life.”

She is seeking in excess of $25,000, punitive damages, prejudgment interest and court costs.

The Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities is not a named defendant in the lawsuit but is mentioned in lawsuit because she apparently is a client, and the independent board placed her in Theresa Reist’s care.

The commissioners filed a response to the lawsuit saying the woman was “never under the care, custody or supervision” of the commissioners and the board of commissioners “is a separate and distinct legal entity from the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities and, as such, is not the appropriate party to these proceedings.”

The complaint alleged Theresa Reist “failed to monitor, supervise and otherwise prevent the sexual misconduct.” She filed a response denying the allegations and is asking for a jury trial and for the complaint to be dismissed.

Acciani could not be reached for comment.

In Other News