Prison rape victims seek $7.5M in damages, but state argues it’s not liable
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former inmates at the Women’s Community Correctional Center are asking that a jury award them $7.5 million for repeated sex assaults by prison guards.
In closing arguments Monday, Terry Revere ― an attorney for the women ― said four adult correctional officers sexually assaulted the women at least 53 times between 2013 and 2016, calling their acts “vile” and “disgusting.”
One of the women killed herself four years ago.
“They used their powers to abuse us and take advantage of our helplessness,” said one of the victims, who represented herself during the two-week trial.
All four prison guards were terminated ― and at least one was convicted of sex assault charges.
The guards were accused of forcing the five inmates to have sex with them, oftentimes giving them contraband such as snacks, access to cell phones and even drugs as rewards.
The state said it’s not liable for the actions of rogue corrections officers and that it investigated the assaults and provided treatment for the victims.
“(The warden) had no reason to believe these people were going to commit these crimes,” added Deputy Attorney General Skyler Cruz.
But Revere argued that the state didn’t do enough to prevent the rapes because it not only failed to place surveillance cameras in areas where the crimes occurred but resisted calls to do so.
Prison reform advocates agreed.
“It’s one of the worst facilities you can imagine. And frankly, the state should be hammered for running a facility like that,” said attorney Eric Seitz, who has several outstanding lawsuits against the state’s prison system.
“In my view, the state is liable for every penny. The state has been running these prisons in a callous and calculated manner for many years under this administration.”
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