WASHINGTON (CN) – Two former inmates of a Corrections Corporation of America prison say CCA employees preyed on them sexually and banished them to solitary lockdown when they complained. One woman claims a CCA guard paid her “sugar daddy” on the outside, then demanded, and received, sex in prison.
Jessica Rubio and Serbennia Chase filed separate, $20 million federal lawsuits against the private prison contractor, alleging civil rights violations at the company’s Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF) at the District of Columbia Jail.
Rubio, who was arrested and sentenced in 2008 for sexual solicitation, says CTF employee “Sgt. Powell” paid her for sex four times when he should have been helping her “turn her life around.”
Rubio says that in an effort to go straight rather then spending “the rest of her life going in and out of prison,” she signed up for a private counseling session with Powell, who ran a group session called “Life Without a Crutch.”
Rubio says she thought Powell was “uniquely qualified to assist her in dealing with her problems and counsel her on how to become a law abiding and productive member of society.”
During a private session, she says she told Powell she was a prostitute and drug addict. She said she worked as a prostitute because of a “love of money,” and because there was no other job at which she could make “$1,200 to $1,800 a day.”
After the session, Rubio says, Powell paid $50 to her “sugar daddy” to have sex with her.
Rubio says that despite the “receipt” for her services, she did not think Powell would “use her to satisfy his sexual urges because she went to him to turn her life around, not to facilitate the life she had on the streets.”
She says Powell took her to the prison’s “satellite kitchen” four times and had sex with her, each time paying her “sugar daddy” beforehand.
Afterward, Rubio says, “She felt cheap, used and abused.”
“It reminded her of the life she had on the street, that she wanted to put behind her, but it had apparently followed her to CTF,” the lawsuit states.
After she told investigators about Powell’s actions and agreed to testify to a grand jury, Rubio says she was denied phone calls and other privileges, and eventually was moved to another prison, where her attorney had trouble visiting her. She was kept in solitary and kept on near-constant lockdown, she says.
In the other complaint, Chase, who was arrested in 2008 for aggravated assault, says she was sexually harassed at least three times by a “Lt. Harris” while incarcerated at CTF.
On a number of occasions Harris escorted her to meetings with her attorney. Two times he grabbed her buttocks or her vagina and said, “I’ll see you later,” according to the complaint.
Another time he cornered her in a stairway, grabbed her vagina and said, “When are you going to let me put this dick in you?” Chase says.
Chase adds that the 5th District Police Precinct violated her privacy when it videotaped her undressing in an interrogation room. She says the police then circulated a video of her without underwear “exposing her vagina and buttocks.” She says she found out about the video when detectives sent a copy to her lawyer.
She says she was “shocked, embarrassed and felt shame that her attorneys and other people saw her naked body.”
After she reported the harassment, Chase says she was transferred to a jail more than 2 hours away and kept in a solitary cell on 24-hour lockdown.
Both women sued the District of Columbia, the Office of the Attorney General, and Corrections Corporation of America for civil rights violations. Chase also sued for invasion of privacy. They both seek a jury trial, $10 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. Both are represented by Wendell Robinson.
Officials at the Correctional Treatment Facility did not return a phone call requesting comment.