Former woman prisoner files rape suit against CCA guard & CCA

Former inmate alleges rape at private prison

By Stephenie Steitzer February 25, 2010
Louisville Courier Journal

A former inmate at the beleaguered private women’s prison in Eastern Kentucky has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was repeatedly raped by a prison employee in 2007.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pikeville, alleges that the employee at the Otter Creek Correctional Center forced her to engage in non-consensual sexual acts between March and October 2007 and threatened to block her parole if she reported him to authorities.

The alleged victim also names Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the prison under contract with the state, and the Department of Corrections as defendants. It alleges that they failed to properly screen, train and supervise the employee.

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in an e-mail Thursday that the employee was terminated last March.

Owen said CCA has not yet received a copy of the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday, and could not comment further at this time.

Department of Corrections Commission LaDonna Thompson said Thursday that she had not yet seen the suit and could not comment.

It could not be determined whether the employee is facing criminal charges relating to the allegations.

A Kentucky State Police spokesman familiar with cases against former Otter Creek workers could not be reached for comment Thursday.

At least six workers at Otter Creek have been charged with sex-related crimes involving inmates at the facility.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced last month that the state will move more than 400 women prisoners out of Otter Creek given the allegations of sexual misconduct by male workers there.

The women prisoners will be transferred to the state-run Western Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia this summer, and the nearly 700 male inmates now there will be moved to Otter Creek, which has more than 650 beds, and other prisons in the state.

CCA has been under fire since last summer after multiple inmates at Otter Creek made allegations that they were sexually assaulted by corrections officers and other workers there.

A Department of Corrections investigation found that prison authorities failed to investigate seven alleged incidents of sexual contact between workers and inmates since 2007. In four of those cases, the workers involved were fired.

But investigations required under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act were not conducted.

The suit filed this week states that the alleged victim originally denied that she had been raped because “she was so afraid of (the employee’s) threats regarding her parole.”

It says she told investigators last July that the incidents had occurred.

The suit says that the alleged victim was released on parole in September 2008 under the condition that she remain free of any parole violations for six years.

She seeks damages, including punitive damages, in an amount to be determined by a jury, according to the lawsuit.

Her attorney, William Butler Jr. of Louisville, did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.

National Conference to Abolish the Death Penalty Comes to Louisville

From the ACLU:
Tuesday, January 12, 2010,

The ACLU of Kentucky, as a partner in the KY Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, is proud to play host to the National Conference to Abolish the Death Penalty in Louisville later this week from January 14-17. The nation’s leading death penalty abolitionists will be gathered at the Seelbach hotel, a rare opportunity for Kentuckians to have access to hundreds of the most significant advocates against state-mandated executions.

Featured speakers will include Sister Helen Prejean; Richard Dieter, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center; Reverend Barry W. Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State; and Kentucky native Stephen Bright, President and Senior Counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights, just to name a few.

The 2010 conference theme is Training for the Long Run; Building Bridges to Wider Audiences, and will focus on ways to expand support for ending capital punishment. Workshops cover a wide range of topics offering basic and advanced skills training, new information on research and policy developments in the field, and inspirational firsthand stories about the harm the death penalty causes individuals and the community.

In addition to the daytime conference activities there are opportunities to join us in the evening for two very special events. The KY Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will be hosting an event Thursday evening beginning at 7 p.m at the Muhammad Ali Center to recognize Kentucky advocates. For the bargain price of $20, guests will have access to the museum and an after dinner reception of dessert and coffee.

At the NCADP’s Annual Awards Dinner, ACLU of Kentucky Board member Carl Wedekind will be honored alongside fellow abolitionists such as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Musician Steve Earle. Scheduled for Saturday, the reception will begin at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $75 for Kentuckians and only $60 for students and Seniors. For more information on either event please contact Kate Miller at kate@aclu-ky.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

We are at a tipping point in this country; at the cusp of sweeping changes regarding the end of state-mandated executions. Join us for the National Conference to Abolish the Death Penalty and be a part of history!