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$35,00 Settlement in Sexual Assault of Pennsylvania Female Prisoner by Guard

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) has settled a female prisoner’s federal lawsuit that claimed she was sexually assaulted by two male guards and videotaped naked by a female guard for $35,000.

The settlement came in the case of prisoner Lisa Lambert, for events that occurred in 1993 through 1994. Lambert was serving a life sentence at PDOC’s State Correctional Institution at Cambridge Springs (SCI). From May 1993 through October 1994, she was sexually assaulted by guard James Eicher on several occasions. During that same time period, guard John Ruan repeatedly pinned Lambert down in a facility stair well and sexually assaulted her.

When Lambert informed Captain Keith Bartlett of these facts, he placed her in solitary confinement. Upon advising deputy superintendent Charles Utz of the incidents, he told Lambert that “boys will be boys.” Lambert’s complaint also said that in November 1994 deputy superintendent Victoria Koumanie videotaped her nude after a strip search when she returned from a court appearance.

The lawsuit contended Lambert’s rights were violated by the sexual assault by Ruan and the videotaping. The actions of Eicher were not directly at issue, for he was in prison for assaulting Lambert when the lawsuit was filed in 1996. He re-ceived a 1 ½ to 3-year sentence and was paroled in 1999.

Lambert claimed PDOC officials “fostered an attitude of acquiescence toward such pervasive conduct,” wrote U.S. District Judge Sean Mclaughlin. “Plaintiff paints a disturbing picture,” he said in ordering a trial. He pointed to her allega-tions that SCI was a “virtual haven of sexual activity between Department of Corrections employees and inmates.”

On the eve of trial, PDOC agreed to settle the case for $35,000. That August 23, 2007, settlement also made provi-sions for Lambert to remain at a prison in Massachusetts and for the PDOC to contact the Court prior to making any at-tempt to take her back into custody, which it has stated no intention to do. Lambert was interstate compacted after the events related to her lawsuit.

The delay in settlement from the time of filing was attributed to the parties agreeing to stay the case while Lambert pursued appeals of her Criminal Conviction, which were finally denied in 2005. Lambert was represented by Angus Love of the Institutional Law Project in Philadelphia. See: Lambert v. Ruan, USDC, WD PA, Case No: 96-247.

Additional source: Lancaster New Era

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Related legal case

Lambert v. Ruan