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New York Woman Raped by Prison Guard Receives $1.1 Million Award

A New York Court of Claims awarded $605,750 to a former prisoner who was the victim of an attempted rape and completed rape by a guard at the Albion Correctional Facility (ACF).

The award followed the Court’s grant of summary judgment that found the New York State Department of Corrections (NYDOC) was 100% liable. The facts underlying the claim were undisputed.

One set of facts involved the accused guard, Donald Lasker, Jr., having been suspected of having a “propensity to pursue unauthorized relationships” with prisoners. Yet, NYDOC “left him in the position to continue to pursue same.”

The claimant in this case, Anna O., was at ACF for violating her probationary sentence for writing bad checks. Her first incident with Lasker occurred on a weekend in June 2007. He requested she come to the school building to help with cleaning despite it not being part of her assigned job. Another prisoner had already started to clean when she arrived.

Anna went to the supply room to get cleaning supplies. She noticed a table in the room, which was normally dirty, was covered completely by open manila folders. Then, she noticed Lasker standing behind her. “This is where I’m going to F*** you, “ he said.

By the time she got to the second classroom, Lasker had sent the other prisoner back to her unit. Lasker entered the classroom, locked the door and grabbed Anna. They struggled, but he was able to rip her shirt and touch her breasts. He was also able to get her pants halfway off. Lasker stopped only when a radio call advised him that Sgt. Foster was coming to the school building.

After he got himself back together, Lasker opened the door, and Anna went back to her unit. She did not report the incident out of fear she would be punished by being sent to segregation or losing visitation with her husband, who visited weekly.

Sometime after the attempted rape, Anna was again instructed to go to the school building. She went to work cleaning when she arrived. Lasker entered the classroom and locked the door. There was another struggle, but this time Lasker put his hands around Anna’s neck and choked her.

He ripped off her shirt, touched her breasts, and then pulled her pants off. He then raped Anna on top of a table in the classroom. Like the last time, a radio call alerted that Sgt. Foster was coming to the building. When he arrived, he noticed Lasker was disheveled. When he entered the classroom, he noticed Anna crying in a corner. She ran out of the room when asked what happened.

Later, she said she was crying because of problems with her children, but Foster continued to question her. She then related the attempted rape and the rape. When asked about the matter, Lasker admitted to the sexual conduct. He later pleaded guilty to third degree rape and official misconduct, but he was only sentenced to two months of incarceration, to be served on weekends, and 10 years’ probation.

Anna sued Lasker and was awarded $500,000, with half in compensatory damages and the other half in punitive damages. See: Ortiz v. Lasker, USDC, W.D. New York, Case No. 08-cv-60011 in August 2010. The Court of Claims awarded her $158,500 for past pain and suffering and $47,250 for future pain and suffering against NYDOCS on August 15, 2012. She was represented by attorneys Terence L. Kindlon and Laurie Shanks of the law firm of Kindlon, Shanks & Associations. See: Anna O. v. New York, Court of Claims #2012-013-035.

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Related legal cases

Anna O. v. New York, Court of Claims #2012-013-035.

Ortiz v. Lasker