On January 26, 2000, Westchester county, New York, jail guards Carlos Aldarondo, 33, Javier Corona, 31, Michael Downey, 39 and Robert Escalera, 39, were charged in Westchester county court with assorted felony charges stemming from their rape and sexual abuse of women prisoners in the jail.
County executive Andrew Spano said "These are not isolated incidents. This is an abuse of power by the officers involved. We think that a change of procedures is warranted. We don't want men any longer to have access to the living quarters of female prisoners." Spano announced that henceforth only women guards would be assigned to work in the women's living quarters section of the jail.
The guards' arrest was the result of a six month investigation that began after a victim's friend complained of the sexual abuse to county jail officials and Westchester district attorney Jeanine Pirro.
Aldarondo is charged with raping and orally sodomizing a woman prisoner in her cell. Corona is charged with raping a woman in a jail supply closet. Downey is charged with sexual abuse and official misconduct for forcing three women prisoners to strip and expose their genitals to him. Escalera is charged with official misconduct for demanding that a woman with a toothache expose her breasts to him in exchange for Tylenol. To get more Tylenol to lessen her pain (the tooth was extracted a few days later), she was forced to show Escalera her genitals.
What makes this story unusual is that Westchester county officials are willing to admit that the sexual abuse of prisoners is a widespread problem and, more importantly, that they took immediate steps to correct the problem. As PLN regularly reports, most jurisdictions continue referring to ongoing episodes of sexual abuse of prisoners as "isolated incidents" which begs the point of when do these things stop being "isolated incidents"? The guards union has since filed suit t prevent the staffing change at the jail.
Sources: New York Times, Newsday
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