4 Hawaii guards accused of sexually assaulting female inmates

4 corrections officers accused of sexually assaulting female inmates
Published: Sep. 27, 2016 at 8:15 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 28, 2016 at 6:17 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The list of Hawaii adult corrections officers accused of sexually assaulting female inmates has grown.

Four are now under investigation. And while two have already been arrested, all four are still getting their state paychecks.

A half dozen inmates at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua have reported being assaulted this year.

In some cases, they kept clothing with DNA evidence.

Jana Cruz, the mother of one of the inmates, says her daughter told her through tears that one ACO had been assaulting her since February.

"She said, 'I've been molested in here and if I don't comply with this certain person I won't eat,'" Cruz said.

Cruz's daughter was convicted of theft, and she says her daughter shouldn't have to face assault while serving her time.

"He would tell her, 'The only way you could eat is if you do this to me or you do that to me,' and sometimes it was forced on her," Cruz said.

Her daughter's attorney, Myles Breiner, says this has been an ongoing problem at WCCC.

"Predatory guards feasting on a population of women who absolutely have to bow to their demands. If they don't, they get write-ups," he said.

Breiner said the write-ups prevent inmates from qualifying for privileges like work furlough.

He argues there should be more safeguards in place.

Nolan Espinda, state director of the Department of Public Safety, says he takes all allegations seriously and complies with the Prison Rape Elimination Act. "The opportunity for inmates to make complaints regarding sexual activity in the institution are wide and well," he said.

Corrections officers Chavon Freitas and Taofi Magalei were both arrested in July and are expected to be fired next month.

A third is also on paid leave pending an investigation, and the fourth has been reassigned.

Espinda says his office does consider the accusations when determining the status of each officer.

"We go through the whole range of determinations, ranging from continued employment at the same work site, to change of employment work site, to not allowing (an) employee back at work at all," he said.

Breiner added that collective bargaining prevents the department from keeping accused officers on unpaid leave for longer than 30 to 60 days, but he says more needs to be done to wrap up investigations sooner.

He also said the department needs to provide more training for corrections officers and do more thorough background checks.

Breiner has not filed any lawsuits against the state, but isn't ruling it out in the future.

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