STATESBORO, Ga. (CN) - A transgender inmate who was sexually assaulted in prison may pursue claims that prison officials risked her safety by putting her in a cell with a rapist, a federal judge ruled.
Darius Green, a male-to-female transgender, was sexually assaulted by a fellow prisoner while serving time at Rogers State Prison in southern Georgia.
Green sued the prison's warden and 15 other prison officials, claiming they knew she would be raped while in custody and did nothing to stop it. She alleged the jailers violated her constitutional rights by making her share a cell with her aggressor.
The prison staff knew that Green was a transgender inmate with fully developed female parts such as breasts, according to the complaint.
When Green claimed that she feared for her safety in the general population, the prison staff transferred her in a cell with a known rapist who had assaulted Green before, the inmate claimed.
Some of the defendants asked the court to dismiss the claims against them, invoking qualified immunity and arguing that Green had failed to state a claim for relief.
U.S. District Judge Avant Edenfield found last week that Green's allegations established deliberate indifference by the prison officials who had allowed Green's aggressor to remain in her cell despite the risk of harm to Green.
Although Green must prove the officials had knowledge of the risk of sexual assault she faced, the allegations are sufficient to support constitutional violations claims, according to the Jan. 6 ruling.
Claims that the prison officials conspired with each other to place the aggressor in Green's cell may also move forward, the 9-page order states.
Since Green alleged that the prison staff and supervisors violated her constitutional right to be protected from harm while in prison, they are not entitled to immunity at this stage, the judge found.
However, the defendants cannot be liable for their alleged failure to stop the assault, because existing law does not apply to a prison official's failure to intervene in altercations between inmates, according to the ruling.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.