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Private Prison Blamed for Okla. Sexual Abuse

TULSA (CN) - A private prison company knew a business owner sexually abused women in a work-release program, but kept sending women because the prison company received kickbacks a woman claims in court.

Cassie Chambers sued Avalon Correctional Services dba Turley Residential Center, a profit-seeking private prison, on Nov. 18 in Tulsa County Court.

She also sued the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, the business owner who she claims raped her, and three of his businesses. Those defendants are Abbas Kazami Kia, QFA Royalties LLC, A Kia Best Sub Enterprises LLC, and Best Sub Enterprises Inc. They ran a Quizno's sandwich shop that closed down after police raided it, Chambers says.

She claims the private prison company knew as early as November 2011 "that Kia had sexually battered a program participant," but kept supplying him with women because "Avalon-TRC earned a kickback on wages paid to women in the work release program." It was a good deal for Kia and his businesses because they "used women supplied by Avalon to increase profit margins and to reduce business expenses," according to the complaint.

Chambers claims that the sexual abuse she suffered "included rape and oral sex." She claims that Kia told her there was nothing she could do about it because "nobody will believe an inmate."

And she claims that Kia told her that "failure to submit to sexual desires and urges would result in adverse consequences, including false reports of misconduct [and] the withholding of wages earned."

Nonetheless, she says: "Reports of the abuse were subsequently communicated to the Tulsa Police Department which opened an investigation into the allegations, secured a warrant, and raided the Quizno's location. Shortly thereafter, the Quizno's location suddenly stopped operation, and upon information and belief, Kia fled the jurisdiction to avoid prosecution."

Chambers seeks punitive damages for negligence.

She is represented by J. Spencer Bryan with Bryan & Terrill.

Avalon runs 10 halfway houses in three states, where more than 3,000 people a day serve out the end of their sentences, the company says on its home Internet page.

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