In August 2005, Penifer Salinas, a female Colorado Department of Correction (CDOC) prisoner at Denver Womens Correctional Facility (DWCF) entered into a proposed $225,000 settlement with the State of Colorado. The settlement was a result of a Federal civil rights claim alleging a sexual assault against her by former CDOC guard David Christensen. Salinas alleged that Christensen violated her Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to keep her free from physical abuse, sexual assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Salinas also named as codefendants DWCF Warden Joanie Shoemaker, Captain Christopher Phillips and guard Terry Unruh for engaging in retaliation against her and attempting to cover up not only this assault but prior assaults against women prisoners by Christensen.
Salinas' complaint, filed on November 8, 2004, alleged that she was raped and sexually abused by Christensen in April of 2002, although she didnt report the incident until August of 2002, fearing retaliation by guards. The assault caused physical and mental injuries which were never treated. After reporting the rape, Salinas claimed that guards retaliated against her by being repeatedly strip searched, having all mail (including legal mail) opened and read by guards, termination of rape advocate visits, and having her mother's letters returned.
Upon reporting the retaliation, guard Terry Unruh called Salinas a liar and stated none of her officers would engage in such behavior and that she had made her own bed. Captain Phillips was alleged to have covered up Christensen's prior inappropriate sexual behavior with other female prisoners and failed to discipline him because he was a personal friend.
Christensen was subsequently convicted of sexual assault upon Salinas and was sentenced to an indeterminate term of incarceration between five years and the remainder of his natural life. Such sentence in Colorado also carries a mandatory term of parole with a minimum of ten years up to the remainder of natural life.
The Release and Settlement Agreement was publicly disclosed pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), stating that Salinas' civil rights claim was dismissed with prejudice by stipulation of the parties. Salinas agreed not to bring further suit in this matter. The settlement also stated that neither party was admitting to any wrongful or improper actions, but rather reflects the parties desire to resolve this matter amicably without additional expense or litigation. Per the settlement agreement, fees and costs were borne by the parties. See: Salinas v. Christensen, USDC D CO, Case No. 04MK209(OES).
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Related legal case
Salinas v. Christensen
|USDC D CO, Case No. 04MK209(OES).)