Skip navigation

Corizon Bankruptcy Stalls Suit By Alleged Rape Victims of Rikers Island Guard

by Chuck Sharman

A group of women who claimed they were raped by a physician’s assistant at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex has now been screwed two more times. First, prosecutors apparently bungled the criminal case against their alleged assailant. Then a lawsuit the group filed was stayed by the federal court for the Southern District of New York on March 8, 2023, pending the outcome of bankruptcy proceedings filed by one of the defendants, former jail healthcare provider Corizon Health.

The group of 29 former detainees alleged that the City and Corizon Health should have stopped Sidney Wilson from abusing his role in the jail’s medical unit to ply them with gifts – including Popeye’s Chicken, a sex toy and prescription drugs – as he “repeatedly raped, sexually assaulted and abused” them between 2015 and 2017. [See: PLN, Nov. 2016, p.63.]

Wilson, now 66, was criminally charged. But the charges were dropped in June 2021. Bronx Senior Assistant District Attorney Nancy Strohmeyer admitted then that the case “could not be brought into compliance” with reform laws passed the year before, which set strict timelines for prosecutors to share discovery materials with defendants.

Though their alleged assailant walked free then, Plaintiffs – all identified by their initials or “Jane Doe” – were at last able to resume their civil suit, which had been waiting for disposition of Wilson’s criminal case before the Court would proceed with their claims.

Meanwhile Corizon Health executed a “Texas Two-Step” in federal bankruptcy court for the Southern District of Texas, transferring its more profitable business to a new entity called YesCare, while sloughing off most of its liabilities into another new entity called Tehum Care Services – which promptly declared bankruptcy. The firm made a bankruptcy filing in February 2023 listing 30 creditors owed over $38 million already. [See: PLN, Aug. 2023, p.35.]

That same month, back in Plaintiffs’ case before the Court, Tehum Care Services filed its Suggestion of Bankruptcy, casting doubt whether there will be anything left to pay victims should they prevail in their suit. That left Judge Laura Taylor Swain little choice but to terminate all outstanding motions and stay proceedings. Plaintiffs are represented by attorney Phillip M. Hines with Held & Hines, LLP in Brooklyn. See: K.A. v. City of New York, USDC (S.D.N.Y.), Case No. 1:16-cv-04936.

Even when a criminal case is not mishandled, the wheels of justice churn slowly on the backs of rape victims at Rikers Island. Another former guard, Leonard McNeill, was fired in June 2023, seven years after assaulting his victim; he was the only guard fired from the jail for rape over a five-year period. [See: PLN, July 2023, p.24.]

Additional sources: New York Daily News, New York Times