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CCA Guard Arrested for Sexually Abusing Vermont Prisoners

Sexual abuse by a Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) guard has spurred three lawsuits against CCA and resulted in the guard's arrest.
The legal activity resulted from incidents at CCA's prisons at the Marion Adjustment Center (MAC) and St. Mary's Kentucky. MAC was home to Vermont prisoners that relocated to another state to ease overcrowding. PLN reported the September 2004 riot at MAC. [PLN March 2005].

The matter came to a crescendo on January 26, 2005, after 26-year-old Joel Becks, a former MAC guard, was arrested on charges of sexual abuse and official misconduct for sexually a abusing two prisoners by Kentucky's Nelson County Sheriff's Department.

Becks' charges stem from two incidents occurring in April 2004. Becks stayed over" from his shift ending at 3 p.m. on April 12. Around suppertime, Becks entered cell D205, finding prisoners John Doe and John Roe violating rules by smoking. Becks closed the cell door. He ordered Doe to the back of the cell and Roe to watch for guards.

Becks dropped to his knees, pulled Doe's sweats down, fondled him and commenced to performing fellatio. Doe neither became erect or ejaculated. Frustrated by Doe's lack of response, Becks said I want the kid anyway.
Becks then ordered the two prisoners to switch positions. He then commenced his fondling and fellatio on Roe despite his protestation. When Doe advised a guard was coming, Becks ceased his abuse.

Becks seemed infatuated with Roe, as on April 29 he entered Roe's segregation unit. Becks was prohibited from being in that unit, but told the guard on duty he was there to relieve him. When that guard left, Becks went to Roe's cell, ordering him to cuff up. Becks then fondled and attempted to perform fellatio on Roe. Becks stopped after prisoners alerted the Unit Sgt. came to investigate Becks improper relief status.
Prior to being hired by CCA on February 16, 2004, Becks had never held a job besides three years in the Army. He was a burly man who lived with his parents. Upon hiring, CCA placed him as a guard without training him.
Beck's hiring exhibits CCA's desperation to fill as many vacant $7.81 an hour guard posts. To fill those posts, CCA has resorted to bringing in guards from Minnesota, paying them $14.60 an hour with a $60 weekly food stipend. Paying Kentucky residents that pay may prevent CCA having to hire people such as Becks, who admitted in his final interview he was flaky, irresponsible, spontaneous.

Before his May 1, 2004, termination, Becks was known around MAC to be a sexual predator. I'm fearing for my life and my safety here knowing that (guard Becks) can open my cell, handcuff me, and rape me," said one prisoner grievance.

Becks ultimately admitted his sexual abuse to a state trooper. Becks' abuse resulted in lawsuits by Doe and Roe; it outlines abuse against three other prisoners besides them. Doe's suit was settled for a confidential amount by CCA on the day of Becks' arrest, January 26, 2005. In an unusual move in prison litigation, CCA did not file any pretrial motions before settling with Doe. Along with a suit filed by Doe, a suit filed by prisoner Barrett Downey is pending against CCA for Becks' abuse.

PLN will report future developments in this matter. The prisoners have been represented by Vermont attorneys Tom Costello of Brattleboro and Barry Kade of Montgomery. PLN editor Paul Wright has also been involved in two of the cases. See: Doe v. Corrections Corporation of America, U.S. District Court, Vermont District, Case No: 2:04CV-144.

Additional Sources: Brattleboro Reformer.

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Related legal case

Doe v. Corrections Corporation of America