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$2.16 Million Judgment for Prisoner Raped by BOP Guard

On April 7, 2010, a federal jury awarded $2.16 million to a female prisoner who was raped by a guard at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Tallahassee, Florida.

Myra C. Solliday alleged that she was raped by Bureau of Prisons (BOP) guard E. Lavon Spence in 2003 while incarcerated at FCI Tallahassee. Spence pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to defraud and received three years’ probation; he did not defend against the civil suit or appear at trial.

Solliday was but one of many female prisoners who were abused by guards at FCI Tallahassee in a sex-for-contraband scheme that resulted in multiple convictions of prison staff and even two deaths.

When federal agents attempted to serve arrest warrants at the facility for several of the accused guards on June 21, 2006, one of the guards, Ralph Hill, opened fire, killing an agent with the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General. Hill was killed by return fire. [See: PLN, Aug. 2009, p.44; Aug. 2007, p.38; Oct. 2006, p.12].

Following a one-day trial in Solliday’s civil suit, the jury awarded her $1,163,625 in compensatory damages and $1,000,000 in punitive damages. While she obtained a significant judgment, it is unlikely much of it will ever be collected since Spence is personally responsible and will not be indemnified by the BOP.

Solliday, represented by Tallahassee attorney David Michael Frank, has since appealed the district court’s dismissal of other defendants in her lawsuit. See: Solliday v. Spence, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Fla.), Case No. 4:07-cv-00363-RH-WCS.

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Related legal case

Solliday v. Spence