Inmate's lawsuit blames state for sex assaults by corrections officer

Inmate's lawsuit blames state for sex assaults by corrections officer

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A female inmate has filed a lawsuit against the state, blaming it for failing to protect her from a series of alleged sex assaults at the hands of a state corrections officer.

This is the case where the inmate actually used a hidden video camera to record one of the sex assaults.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Myles Breiner on her behalf, contends prison officials failed to protect her from the guard's advances, and then let him get away.

The adult corrections officer was identified as James Siugpiyemal, who was responsible for checking her in at the Maui Community Correctional Center when she returned from work furlough.

"Every time she left the facility, she was pressured by this ACO into a sexual relationship," said Breiner.

Breiner said the woman planted the camera in her car because she was frustrated that nothing was being done to stop the assaults. A grand jury saw the video and indicted Siugpiyemal in October 2014. But by that time he had already resigned as as corrections officer.

"Sometime between the initiation of the investigation and the indictment, he fled the state," said Breiner. "And he fled to, we believe, Micronesia. We believe he's in the state of Yap."

The inmate's lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court, names Siugpiyemal, the state Department of Public Safety, its director Nolan Espinda, and then-MCCC warden James Hirano. It claims the state and the warden tipped of Siugpiyemal that he was being charged, and then failed to have him arrested, allowing him to flee the state.

Breiner said the inmate has been transferred to the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu for her safety.

"She has a history of -- frankly, been abused as a child," said Breiner. "She was abused as an adult. She has a history of various drug addiction issues. And to be sexually assaulted by an ACO on top of all the things that she has in her life, this has added on to her problems."

A spokeswoman for the Public Safety Department declined comment, saying that it is pending litigation.

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