10 women file suit claiming abuse at Hawaii women's prison

2017-04-01 12:16


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Honolulu — Ten women say in a federal lawsuit that guards and a worker at a Hawaii's female prison sexually assaulted them while they were incarcerated.

The employees — a female guard, three male guards and a male janitorial work-line supervisor — subjected the women inmates to emotional distress and deprived them of their rights by sexually assaulting them, the lawsuit filed on Thursday said.

Hawaii officials failed to properly train and supervise employees and ignored "an obvious and ongoing pattern and practice of sexual abuse of inmates by both male and female guards and employees ... that dates back at least 25 years", the lawsuit said.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Public Safety said on Friday that officials have not yet been served with the lawsuit.

The department oversees Women's Community Correctional Centre in Kailua, a Honolulu suburb.

"We have to reserve comment until we receive it and have had time to discuss it with our legal counsel," said department spokesperson Toni Schwartz.

The inmates were given food, makeup, crystal meth and special privileges for complying with sexual demands, according to the lawsuit.

'Fear for her life'

In one of the allegations described, a female guard coerced an inmate to have sex in a control room, a bathroom and a closet.

In exchange, the inmate received clothes, hair-care products, access to Facebook, a marriage proposal and a gold wedding ring, the lawsuit said.

Another allegation describes a male guard forcing a woman to perform oral sex and then taunting her about it when her boyfriend visited. He gave her extra food in exchange for the sex assault, the lawsuit said.

That guard reported an inmate for violations that never occurred when she didn't respond to his demands for sex, the lawsuit said.

Another male guard gave inmates makeup, candy, cellphone access and other items in exchange for sex. One of the plaintiffs saw her cellmate having sex with a guard who gave them crystal methamphetamine.

The woman who kept silent about what she saw attempted to hang and kill herself.

When she ended up in a hospital, the same guard was assigned to watch her, the lawsuit said. "His presence caused her undue stress, emotional trauma and outright fear for her life," the lawsuit said.

An inmate assigned to janitorial work alleges in the lawsuit that the supervisor called her into his office and exposed himself.

She ran away, but he cornered her and told her no one would believe her because "she was just an inmate", according to the lawsuit.

The female guard and two male guards no longer work for the department, Schwartz said, while the third male guard and the janitorial supervisor are still department employees.

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