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Washington Jail Pays Teenager $400,000 for Rape While Imprisoned

Washington's Franklin County has paid $400,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a former pretrial detainee who was raped in the Franklin County Correctional Center (FCCC) by another detainee. The civil rights claim brought in a Washington federal court alleged failure to protect.

After he was arrested on a warrant for failure to pay a fine imposed by a criminal court, 17-year-old Russell Kassner was assigned on September 30, 2003, to a cell with another detainee, David Webster. Five days earlier, Webster had been convicted of solicitation to commit murder in the first degree and assault. Because of his history of multiple assault charges in the new convictions Webster, 36, faced a life sentence.

A January 6, 2003, report from the Washington Department of Social and Health Services found Webster was a substantial danger to other persons and represented a substantial likelihood of committing criminal acts jeopardizing public safety." As a result of that report stating Webster was aggressive, suspicious, intimidating, inclined to hold grudges, and that he was prone to sudden and unexpected brutality," the FCCC kept Webster in administrative segregation prior to September 30.

Shortly after being locked in the cell for the night, Webster began talking to Kassner about the violent crimes he had committed in the past and that he would be sentenced to life imprisonment. Webster then showed Kassner a shank, which was a small blade with a black handle. He then threatened to kill him if he did not do what he told him to do or attempted to summon guards.

Webster then raped R.K. by having forced anal intercourse with him. During the night, Mr. Webster repeatedly raped R.K. while threatening to kill him. Mr. Webster also forced R.K. to perform oral sex on him," the complaint charged.

Guards took no action to make Webster remove a cloth over the only light source in the room or to remove a piece of paper over the cell door window. The complaint asserted Webster was a known danger to others and the FCCC failed to protect Kassner from the danger.

The FCCC agreed, on July 8, 2004, to pay R.K. $400,000 to settle the suit. R.K. was represented by the able counsel of Richard D. Wall of Spokane. See: R.K. v. Franklin County, USDC, EDWA, Case No. CV-04-5050-LRS.
In September 2005, 1 guard resigned and another was suspended while an investigation in a lawsuit on claims one woman prisoner in the jail had forced sex with a guard and other female prisoners exposed himself to guards at FCCC. The guards' names were not released, no charges were filed, and the investigation continued. PLN will report future developments.

Additional Source: The Seattle Times

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Related legal case

R.K. v. Franklin County