SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Former jail inmates at San Francisco’s Hall of Justice have filed a claim against the city and county accusing deputies of forcing them to fight each other.

The accusations were initially leveled in March by the city’s public defender, who said deputies arranged gladiator-style fights and threatened inmates with beatings, handcuffing or pepper-spraying if they did not participate.

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Thursday, attorney John Burris filed a claim on behalf of former inmates Stanley Harris, Ricardo Palikiko-Garcia and Keith Dwayne Richardson; accusing the Sheriff’s Department of cruel and unusual punishment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The claim is a standard precursor to a lawsuit.

According to the claim, the ringleader of the inmate fights was Deputy Scott Neu, who was once accused of forcing inmates to perform oral sex on him in cases that were settled out of court.

The claim said other deputies either actively participated in facilitating the gladiator fights or looked the other way.

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At times, the alleged threats by Deputy Neu would be of a sexual nature. According to the claim:

In March 2015, Deputy Neu even challenged Mr. Harris to a fight and insisted that they “go a round” against each other. Deputy Neu then removed all his work gear and shirt and challenged and threatened Mr. Harris, saying that he would make Mr. Harris “tap out.” Mr. Harris embarrassingly believes that Deputy Neu’s motives may have been sexual as Deputy Neu often threatened to “take his cheeks”, a reference to having forced anal intercourse with Mr. Harris.

Harris said he was also forced to exercise as part of his “training” at the whim of Neu, who would humiliate him in front of other inmates for being overweight, the claim said.

An attorney for the sheriff’s office told KPIX 5 Friday the office cannot comment on a claim made against the city, directing inquiries to the city attorney’s office.

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San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the FBI were investigating the allegations.