Roderick Keith Johnson, a prisoner who garnered national attention with allegations that Texas
prison officials allowed him to be bought and sold as a sex slave, has lost his federal lawsuit
against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Following the October 2005 verdict,
Johnson was returned to prison for an alleged parole violation.
Johnson, 37, claimed he was passed around like chattel among members of the Bloods, Crips,
and Mexican Mafia while imprisoned at the Allred Unit for a 2000 burglary conviction. Johnson, a
gay black man described as effeminate and of slight build, says he was forced to endure sexual
abuse almost daily because officials at the prison refused to place him in protective custody.
Instead, Johnson claimed, they mocked him because he is gay.
A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas rejected Johnson's claims
contending his testimony was inconsistent. Johnson's attorneys with the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU) said the case was especially challenging because the jurors had a natural bias
toward prison officials. Keep in mind were in Wichita Falls, Texas, said Kara Gotsch, Public
Policy Coordinator for the ACLU's National Prison Project. Everyone knows someone that works
in that prison or used to work in that prison.
Nevertheless, Johnsons attorneys and other advocates are grateful for the attention his case
brought to the issue of prison rape. I think the most important repercussion of this case is that
it had really good media coverage, in Texas and throughout the country, said Kathy Hall-
Martinez, Executive Director of Stop Prison Rape. In spite of the negative verdict, and the
horrifying set of facts, I think this case shined a light on what happened to Mr. Johnson. This
inmate really did go through hell. The fact that he had the courage to go through this trial is
Johnson, who was paroled in 2003, says the things he experienced in prison will haunt him
forever. But, he says, they have inspired him to advocate for prisoner rights and to educate
others about the problem. I am disappointed by the jury's decision yesterday to find in favor of
the six officials who failed to protect me from continued sexual abuse while I was confined at the
Allred Unit, Johnson said in a statement. However, I am grateful that I have had the opportunity
to tell the world what happened to me. Even though I didn't win my case in court, I know the case
has accomplished a great deal. Prison rape is a huge problem. This process has opened some
eyes to the violence that takes place every day, and I hope it will encourage others to get
involved in doing something about it.
Johnson was rearrested in early December 2005 for reportedly violating his parole. TDCJ officials
said he tested positive for cocaine in the weeks leading up to the trial in his civil suit. He was
expected to spend about 60 days in prison for the violation. Officials said he would not be
returned to the Allred Unit. For more on prison rape in Texas see PLN, October 2005. See:
Johnson v. Johnson, USDC ND TX, Case No. 03-10455. See also defendants interlocutory appeal
at 385 F.3d 503 (5th Cir. 2004).
Additional sources: 247gay.com, News
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Related legal case
Johnson v. Johnson
|USDC ND TX, Case No. 03-10455