Members of Brown Co. Sheriff's Office file federal lawsuit again - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Members of Brown Co. Sheriff's Office file federal lawsuit against coroner regarding inmate death

Zachary Goldson Zachary Goldson
BROWN COUNTY, OH (FOX19) -

Five members of the Brown County Sheriff's Office have filed a federal lawsuit against the Brown County coroner, her husband and Brown County Commissioners in connection with the death of an inmate. 

Zachary Goldson, 24, died inside the Brown County jail in October of 2013. Brown County deputies claimed Goldson hanged himself in his jail cell but Brown County Coroner Judith Varnau ruled the death a homicide. 

[RELATED: Grand jury begins hearing evidence in death of Brown County inmate]

The lawsuit alleges that the Varnau's made malicious efforts to cast the death as a homicide. It also alleges that the Varnau's sent the full coroner's report including surveillance video, phone calls and autopsy and scene photos to newspaper and television stations, including FOX19 NOW. 

The lawsuit reads, in part:

This case embodies years of repeated and continuous lies and defamatory remarks lobbed by the Brown County Coroner's Office, specifically Judith and Dennis Varnau, against members of the Brown County Sheriff's Officer. Defendants Varnau have taken extraordinary steps to criminally investigate the death of Zachary Goldson, a former inmate who committed suicide while incarcerated in the Brown County Jail....The Varnaus' defamatory remarks have not only ruined the good reputation Plaintiffs had previously earned, but have compromised the investigative efforts of the Ohio BCI and the ongoing grand jury deliberations related thereto. 

The suit also claims the Varnau's have compromised ongoing grand jury deliberations. It asks the court to amend the coroner's findings and the rehabilitate the reputation of the officers involved. 

The feud between the coroner and the sheriff's department has been going on for months, making it hard to determine exactly what happened. A separate federal lawsuit was filed against the coroner earlier this year in an attempt to remove Varnau from office.

The coroner's attorney says he's aware of the lawsuit and that it will be looked into, investigated and defended. The Ohio Attorney General's Office said they cannot comment while the investigation is still ongoing.

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