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Stories of guards and sexual assaults


‘Uninhibited sexual environment’ at prison

Jailhouse sex between a guard at the CCA-run Southern Nevada Women’s Correctional Facility and the female inmate he impregnated was consensual, a judge ruled. Each wound up sentenced in 2005 to probation for the illicit relationship.

A subsequent investigation unearthed the culture that made the liaison possible. According to court records, state inspectors concluded the prison had become “an uninhibited sexual environment.”

Guards routinely offered inmates alcohol, narcotics, cosmetics and jewelry for sex, they said.

Ultimately, they wrote, problems stemmed from “a lack of effective supervisory management oversight and control. … There is no evidence that supervisors or managers recognize this risky behavior or do anything to stop it.”

Seeking asylum, immigrants assaulted

In May 2007, a guard stole into a cell at the T. Don Hutto immigrant detention center in Texas and assaulted a woman refugee while her child slept in a nearby crib. The guard was fired.

The following year, a federal review concluded that Hutto, operated by CCA, was “non-compliant” with federal standards on sex abuse and rape prevention.

That was still the case two years later after Hutto had been converted from a family immigrant center to a women’s facility. Contrary to federal standards, female immigrants released to pursue requests for asylum were driven to a Greyhound bus station or airport by one male officer.

Rules required women being transported be accompanied by at least one woman.

Eight immigrants said they were sexually assaulted by a CCA supervisor, Donald Dunn. CCA fired him.

The supervisor subsequently pleaded guilty in state court to misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to a year in jail. He also pleaded guilty to two federal civil rights charges linked to sexual assault of four immigrants.

Ex-addict counselor rapes inmate

In 2005, jail counselor Eugene Pendleton entered prison.

It was not the first time he had been on the wrong side of the bars. The 2005 sentence stemmed from raping an inmate at the Tulsa Oklahoma jail, then run by CCA. But before he was hired for the jail job, the one-time heroin addict had served 18 years for the second-degree murder of a teenage University of Alabama football player.

The jail warden, who met Pendleton while he was serving his sentence, told reporters that he had believed Pendleton would have a rapport with addicts, and was quoted in Tulsa World as saying, “Prospective employees with felony convictions are not automatically excluded from employment.”

92 guards hired without screening

In 2009, Northwest Detention Center hiring supervisor Sylvia Wong admitted that she hired 92 guards without background checks. Wong pleaded guilty to one count of lying to investigators and was sentenced to two years of probation.

GEO ran the Seattle immigrant detention facility for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency; ICE later said at least some of the guards would not have been hired if they had been backgrounded.

In court papers, the U.S. attorney wrote that Wong falsified documents “because of the pressure she felt to get security personnel hired … as quickly as possible.” However, prosecutors also stated that while the potential for serious problems created by Wong was “grave” none had materialized, and that Wong’s pressure was self-imposed, not directed by higher-ups with the company or the federal agency.

Guard stabs inmate as colleagues watch

Kareem Bahiy was serving time in 2001 at the GEO-run George W. Hill Correctional Facility, when, on an August evening, he started arguing with three guards. One stabbed him in the neck. Two others looked on. Bahiy’s assailant later pleaded guilty to assault. The two corrections officers were suspended. A subsequent lawsuit was settled.

In 2007, Christopher Arrington had been in solitary for a week in the same jail, he said, when an argument with a guard over his confinement turned physical. Five more guards entered the fray, beating and kicking Arrington after he had been handcuffed and shackled, leaving boot marks on his body.

The guards shoved his face into a sink and ran water over his head, Arrington later alleged in a lawsuit, then used a flashlight to try to remove his braces, which were anchored to his gums. A videotape of the incident was erased.

‘How are your children?’ rapist guard asks

Anthony Townes had no correctional experience when he was hired as a guard at Camino Nuevo Women’s Correctional Facility in New Mexico. Employees would later describe Townes as management’s “golden boy.

But three female inmates said Townes brought them to secluded areas where prison surveillance cameras couldn’t record what happened next. Townes repeatedly sexually assaulted them.

When the assaults triggered a criminal investigation, the women said they were strip-searched before and after every police interview, and forced to walk past a line of corrections officers.

“Townes threatened me, threatened my children,” said one victim in court. “Every time that he would take me and do as he pleased, the first words out of his mouth were, ‘How are your children? They’re still in Alamogordo, right?’”

Townes initially protested that the women had incessantly propositioned him. “How was I supposed to avoid all their advances?” he asked investigators. In any event, private time with an inmate was impossible, he said, “We were always understaffed.”

Townes was sentenced to 18 years in prison. In a civil suit, the women were awarded more than $3 million in damages.


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