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Nine Months Later, DOJ Still Hasn’t Provided Senator Rubio With Answers About Rampant Sexual Abuse at Women’s Prisons

The complaint, filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1346, names the United States as the defendant and describes horrific assaults. Plaintiffs Rachelle Beaubrun, Kayla Buchanan, Amanda Dimuro, Kristen Goduto, Kara Guggino, Sara Hoehn, April Johnson, Maggie Leon, Rebecca Mora, Terry Nagy-Philips, Lauren Reynolds, Ann Ursiny, Cristian Villalta-Garcia, and Karen Watson (collectively “Plaintiffs”) ranged in ages from 30 to 56 and were all first-time offenders incarcerated at the minimum security unit at Coleman Federal Correctional Institution (“Coleman”) in Sumpter County, Florida (with the exception of Plaintiff Guggino who was raped at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee before being transferred to Coleman and sexually assaulted again).

The complaint alleges that Officers Palomares, Kuilan, Phillips, Campbell, Vann, Gonzalez, Laudenstager, and Urdialez admitted to investigators that they sexually abused the Plaintiffs, yet not one officer has been charged or prosecuted. Palomares, Kuilan, Phillips, Campbell, Laudenstager, and Urdialez were all permitted to retire with full benefits, while Gonzalez and Vann continue to work at Coleman with full benefits and pay.

The incidents took place inside closets, empty conference rooms, trailers and storage rooms and other areas that had no surveillance cameras. The allegations include forced rape; forced oral sodomy; forced digital penetration of the vagina; and grabbing of clothed breasts, buttocks, and crotch areas. Some of the Plaintiffs were raped once while others were repeatedly raped and orally sodomized by more than one officer.

Unbelievably, the complaint alleges that Lieutenants Kajander and David DeCamilla of the Special Investigative Services Unit at Coleman, along with a psychologist named Dr. Ojeda and “other professional service providers” (collectively “Coleman Management Team”) were aware of the sexual assaults by the abovementioned officers, and yet the Coleman Management Team continued to permit the officers to have unrestricted access to the prisoners and to all areas of the prison, including job posts that required one-on-one supervision in secluded places. The Coleman Management Team’s primary response to prisoners who complained of sexual assaults was to transfer the prisoner to a medium-security county lockup where the prisoners lost their ability to complete vocational training and to earn time off their sentences.

While fear of being transferred often achieved the intended result of prisoners not reporting the sexual assaults, the officers also personally threatened the Plaintiffs. The officers monitored the Plaintiffs’ emails and phone calls, and warned them not to speak of the sexual assaults. The officers also read the Plaintiffs’ medical records and personal files. In some instances, the officers showed the Plaintiffs Google maps of the Plaintiffs’ homes and made implied threats of harm to the Plaintiffs’ family members if the Plaintiffs said anything about the abuse.

The complaint describes the sexual assaults as “systemic misconduct within the BOP” and references a report by the U.S. House of Representatives that stated sexual misconduct by officers in the BOP is “largely tolerated or ignored altogether.” Indeed, after Officer Phillips raped Plaintiff Mora, he wasn’t disturbed by the evidence of semen, saying, “You know they’ve accused me before of rape, but they’re never going to believe you.”

Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Bryan E. Busch and Christopher Y. Mills and their case is pending. See: Beaubrun v. United States, Case No. 5:19-cv-000615-TJC-PRL, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Fla. 2020). 

 

Related legal case

Beaubrun v. United States