York County to pay $550K to estate of woman killed in 2012 in settlement of federal lawsuit

YORK COUNTY -- A $550,000 settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit brought against York County, its Prison Board, and several of its officials by the family of a woman killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2012, according to the attorney representing the family.

Cherylann J. Dowell was killed by Ross Crawford in June 2012. Crawford broke no contact orders and assaulted Dowell on several occasions prior to her death,  Devon M. Jacob, the attorney representing her estate, argued in the lawsuit. Jacob contended Dowell's death was preventable because Crawford was never put on court-mandated house arrest with electronic monitoring due to a backlog in the system.

"They did not have the proper equipment or manpower to keep him safely under lock and key where he belonged,” Jacob said in 2014, when the lawsuit was first filed. “They also didn’t notify Ms. Dowell that he had been released. She could have taken proper precautions to protect herself. He was essentially a free man in the community, despite a court order requiring him to be incarcerated in his home. He simply did what everybody knew he would do eventually, and he went to Ms. Dowell’s home and he murdered her.”

The settlement named several individuals, the York County Prison Board of Inspectors, and York County, including its elected officials, employees, insurers, and affiliated agencies or companies as defendants.

“While roaming free, Crawford bludgeoned Dowell to death,” said Jacob in Tuesday's release. “Hopefully, while York County was wasting significant time and money defending against the Estate’s meritorious claims, it was also fixing the systemic management problems that created the opportunity for Dowell to be murdered. Mismanagement of the York County Adult Probation and Parole Department, and the waste of public money, however, are issues for the taxpayers to address.”

The Estate’s claims against Crawford remain pending, Jacob said.

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