The indictment was the result of a joint investigation between the Walker County District Attorney’s Office and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. The evidence collected was presented to a Walker County Grand Jury. According to a press release from the AG and DA’s office, that Grand Jury returned an indictment on the charges Thursday, which resulted in Richardson’s arrest late Thursday night.
The indictment specifically alleges that Richardson had sexual contact by forcible compulsion with four victims while they were incarcerated in the Carbon Hill Municipal Jail. It also charges that he solicited prostitution from one of those victims, while the harassment charges involve two other female victims. The press release also said that no other information about the investigation or the alleged crimes would be released at this time. No hearing or trial date had been set as of press time.
Richardson was also served with notice of a federal lawsuit filed against him by attorneys Thomas Carmichael, Russell England and Lisa Ivey on behalf of their client, one of the alleged victims. The complaint from their client, filed on Tuesday, said she was incarcerated in the Carbon Hill Municipal Jail in mid-April 2013. She alleges Richardson made sexual, suggestive comments and remarks during her time there. She further alleges that on or about May 6, Richardson took her into his office and touched her inappropriately. The complaint said that the victim filed a complaint with the police department the next day. The suits lists 11 counts that the victim believes show the mayor and city violated her rights and did harm to her.
The civil suit seeks compensatory, statutory and punitive damages as well as reasonable lawyer’s fees from Richardson personally, as well as in his capacity as mayor and the city of Carbon Hill. It also asks that a jury declare Richardson’s actions “improper, illegal and/or unconstitutional,” and that the city be required to create, establish and maintain standards, practices and procedures to safeguard inmates in the future. The suit also asks for a trial by jury.
If convicted on the criminal charges, Richardson could face a maximum penalty of one to 10 years for each count of first-degree sexual abuse and for each count of custodial sexual misconduct, which are both class C felonies. Soliciting prostitution is a class A misdemeanor with a sentence of up to one year and harassment is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a sentence of up to three months, if convicted.
If convicted of a felony, Richardson would automatically be removed from the mayor’s office, in accordance with state law.