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Woman files federal lawsuit over daughter’s lengthy jail stay

The mother and legal guardian of a Pahrump woman claims Nye County officials kept her daughter in jail for more than a year while ignoring court orders to send her to a state psychiatric facility.

According to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday against Nye County and Sheriff Sharon Wehrly, 28-year-old Caryssa Lennox was arrested in February 2014 and charged with unlawful use of an emergency phone number and destruction of property.

Lennox was evaluated in April of that year at the Nye County Detention Center by two psychologists who found she was incompetent to stand trial and recommended she be taken to Lake’s Crossing Center in Sparks for treatment.

In June 2014, a Nye County district judge ordered the sheriff’s office to transport the woman to Lake’s Crossing, a maximum-security psychiatric facility. Two months later, the Nye County district attorney and Lennox’s lawyers reached an agreement that allowed her to be sent to Seven Hills Hospital, a behavioral health treatment center in Henderson.

She wasn’t taken to either facility, according to the lawsuit, which alleges the woman’s due process rights were violated.

Instead, Lennox sat in jail until October 2014, when again, a district judge ordered that she be committed to Lake’s Crossing for a 120-day competency examination.

Three months after the October order, the same psychologists evaluated Lennox again, both reaching the same conclusion: She was not able to stand trial and should be taken to Lake’s Crossing.

Usually an inmate is evaluated by two doctors and then taken to Lake’s Crossing if the doctors agree he or she is unfit to stand trial, said Greg Cortese, the lead attorney in the lawsuit against Nye County.

“Why didn’t they send her, and why did they evaluate her a second time?” Cortese asked Wednesday.

In February 2015, for the third time in a year, the court ordered the sheriff’s office to transport Lennox to Lake’s Crossing. About two months later, the charges against Lennox were dropped, and the court ordered the sheriff’s office to send her to Seven Hills Hospital.

She was transferred to the private Henderson center six days after the charges were dismissed, the lawsuit said.

“Caryssa Lennox was in custody at Nye County Detention Center from February 27, 2014 through March 31, 2015 without having ever been transported to Lake’s Crossing Mental Health Center and without ever standing trial for her alleged crime,” Lennox’s attorneys wrote in the complaint.

Neither Nye County District Attorney Angela Bello nor Wehrly could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Wehrly took over the office of sheriff in January 2015. The prior sheriff is not mentioned in the lawsuit.

Contact Kimber Laux at klaux@reviewjournal.com. Find @lauxkimber on Twitter.

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