PHOENIX (CN) – A transgender woman claims she was sexually assaulted by a Corrections Corporation of America guard at the private immigration prison it runs in Eloy, outside of Phoenix.
CCA is the biggest private operator of immigration prisons in the country and holds almost half of the 33,000 people in federal custody on any given day, the ACLU of Arizona said in a statement.
The federal complaint against CCA, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, and the City of Eloy claims that local and federal officials failed to protect Tanya Guzman-Martinez from abusive CCA guards, even after they were notified about the sexual assault and harassment.
Guzman, who was imprisoned for eight months in Eloy, says she was sexually assaulted there twice.
“One incident occurred on December 7, 2009 and involved a detention officer who after repeated harassment, maliciously forced Guzman-Martinez to ingest his ejaculated semen and threatened to deport her back to Mexico if she did not comply with his demands,” the ACLU said. “Guzman-Martinez immediately reported the assault to detention staff and the Eloy Police Department and the detention officer was later convicted in Pinal County Superior Court of attempted unlawful sexual contact.
“Despite this attack, immigration officials did nothing to protect her from further abuse. In a separate incident that took place on April 23, 2010, Guzman-Martinez was sexually assaulted by a male detainee in the same all-male housing unit where she was subjected to the first assault. She didn’t report the assault to local police until about a week later because she feared retaliation by detention staff and other detainees. Soon after she reported the second assault to the police, Guzman-Martinez was released from ICE custody.”
CCA has been sued repeatedly for abuses in its private prisons.
Guzman seeks punitive damages for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other deprivations of constitutional rights.
She is represented by ACLU attorneys Daniel Pochoda, with assistance from Kristina Holmstrom and Kirstin Story of Lewis and Roca.