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Colorado DOC Pays $60,000 Settlement for Suicide of Former Prisoner Who Was Sexually Abused by Guard

Colorado DOC Pays $60,000 Settlement for Suicide of Former Prisoner Who Was Sexually Abused by Guard

by John E. Dannenberg

The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) settled a lawsuit brought by the family of a former prisoner who committed suicide a year after he paroled. The suit alleged that the prisoner was despondent from repeated sexual attacks he had suffered from a predatory prison guard.

Christopher Mallicotte was incarcerated at CDOC’s Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility (AVCF) between 2000 and 2005. During that time, he was sexually abused by guard Perfecto Hijar II, who was subsequently exposed as a sexual predator. Three supervisors were sued for supporting policies that allowed this misbehavior to knowingly persist.

AVCF has a long history of sexual misconduct by its guards and employees. In 1997, a female guard won a large award for systemic sexual harassment by male guards. Another female guard sued when Deputy Warden Joe Paolino intimidated her in retaliation for complaining about widespread sexual harassment within CDOC, and for thus violating the “code of silence.”

After yet a third such female guard-harassment suit, Paolino was promoted to warden at another facility where new complaints developed.

In 1998, Hijar was accused of third-degree assault on AVCF prisoners, including threatening a prisoner that if he did not submit to sexual intercourse, Hijar would see that he did not parole. Hijar also bought sexual “services” for contraband. A complaining prisoner was physically assaulted and threatened with death for reporting Hijar. CDOC never took any action against Hijar.

In April and May 2004, Hijar sexually assaulted Mallicotte, including oral copulation. He gave Mallicotte contraband, covered up his own rules violations and gave Mallicotte early release in return for the sexual victimization. Mallicotte was fearful of Hijar and simply submitted rather than risk further injury. Hijar’s misconduct was commonly known around AVCF. Mallicotte was not Hijar’s only victim; he sexually assaulted other prisoners both before and after Mallicotte.

Things came to a head in March 2005, when Mallicotte wore a wire which recorded Hijar’s sexual misconduct, whereupon Hijar was arrested and charged with felony sexual assault. Codefendant Warden Richard Soares was criminally prosecuted for hindering the prosecution of three guards for unlawful sexual misconduct with eight female employees. And in April 2005, Mallicotte was beaten by a prisoner for having participated in Hijar’s investigation. In the fall of 2005, Mallicotte paroled and moved to Louisiana. However, he was unable to recover from his sexual psychological trauma and committed suicide in August 2006.

Prior to trial, the parties agreed to settle the complaint for $60,000, including legal costs. Mallicotte’s family was represented by Denver attorney Andrew Reid of the Walter Gerash law firm. See: Mailicotte v. Hijar, U.S.D.C. (D. Colo.) Case No. 06-cv-00502-PSF-CBS.

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Related legal case

Mailicotte v. Hijar