EXCLUSIVE: Women's prison sergeant accused of assaulting inmate

EXCLUSIVE: Women's prison sergeant accused of assaulting inmate
Published: Jun. 15, 2015 at 9:52 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 16, 2015 at 5:00 AM HST
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KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An inmate at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua has accused a male guard sergeant of assault after an incident that ended up with the inmate being sent to solitary confinement for nearly two weeks.

Sources brought this case to the attention of Hawaii News Now because they're concerned it's not being investigated properly, since nearly two weeks after the alleged assault, the sergeant accused in the case remains on the job, and is still in charge of inmates in the very unit where the alleged incident happened.

The inmate, 24, accused the guard of assault in the incident June 2 in the cafeteria of the Olomana cottage at WCCC.

Sources said the sergeant told her to take her stuff and leave because she was done eating and she started arguing with him.

That's when sources said the guard used what some witnesses considered to be unnecessary force to take her to the ground and then punched and kicked her.

The inmate -- who's five-foot-three and weighs 130 pounds -- filed an assault complaint against the corrections officer.

Prison officials put her in solitary confinement for the last two weeks, because of her alleged "misconduct" in the incident. So she's allowed out of her cell just one hour each day.

Prisons officials said they immediately started multiple investigations.

"The alleged incident is under review by the facility, Public Safety Internal Affairs Office and the Sheriff Division. Staff reports, inmate witness accounts and medical documentation are all being assessed at this time," said a state prisons spokeswoman.

The Sheriff Division and prisons all report to Nolan Espinda, the director of Public Safety, so no outside agency is reviewing or investigating the case.

Sources said the inmate -- who's doing time for a felony auto theft conviction -- is known for starting fights with other women behind bars.

But sources said the sergeant -- who remains on the job and is still in charge of about 80 inmates during his shift -- has a history of being rough with the women inmates.

Asked why the sergeant is allowed to continue working and is not on paid leave and under investigation, a prisons spokeswoman said she could not comment in detail on a personnel matter that's under investigation.

The incident happened at a time when top leadership posts at WCCC were not filled permanently. The acting warden has been out of town on vacation for the last couple weeks and his position is being held by the acting chief of security, sources said.

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