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Private Prison Transport Guards Sentenced to Prison for Raping Detainees

by Douglas Ankney


Two former guards with Inmate Services Corporation (ISC), a private contractor that provided prisoner transports across the U.S., have been sentenced to federal prison for raping detainees in their charge. Marquet Johnson, 45, was sentenced on April 16, 2024, to 30 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release; he must also register as a sex offender. Fellow ISC guard Rogeric Hankins, then 37, was sentenced on July 11, 2023, to nine years in prison and three years of supervised release.

ISC provided transport for individuals arrested on out-of-state warrants. Hankins drove his ISC van to the jail in Olympia, Washington, on March 31, 2020, to transport detainee Jennifer Seelig to another lockup in St. Paul, Minnesota. En route, he parked at a Missouri rest stop on April 3, 2020, to let the detainee use the restroom. When she finished, Hankins took Seelig into the men’s restroom and began forcing her shirt up. The detainee tried to resist, but Hankins forced her to “perform a sexual act on him,” according to his plea agreement, before he “bent the victim over a toilet and raped her.”

Johnson admitted raping other detainees he bent over rest stop toilets—nine of them in about as many months on the job. Afterward, he stalked his victims by email. While transporting “K.N.M.” from Indiana to the jail in Texas’ Hays County in July 2019, he stopped at ISC headquarters in West Memphis, Arkansas, and forced the pretrial detainee to perform oral sex on him. He also admitted raping another pretrial detainee named “P.B.” in August 2019, en route from a jail in Oregon’s Baker County to Missouri’s Johnson County Jail; after successfully drafting his partner guard to pilot another van, Johnson took the detainee to a Super 8 motel and raped her, forcing her the next day to perform oral sex on him in the front passenger seat of the van after he pulled onto a secluded gravel road.

Another detainee, “T.L.P.,” said he raped her on a trip from New Mexico to Colorado in November 2019. The assault happened in the back seat of the transport van that he had parked to let the other guard on duty fetch a snack; holding his gun against her cheek, he threatened things could “get ugly” if she didn’t submit to his sexual demands. He was caught when she tricked him into thinking she had washed up afterward, but she actually preserved evidence of the assault. In addition to his admitted victims, another six detainees have accused Johnson of raping them, too. See: United States v. Johnson, USDC (D.N.M.), Case No. 1:23-cr-00092.

The Interstate Transportation of Dangerous Criminals Act (also known as Jeanna’s Act) is the only federal law providing guidelines or standards for the private industry of transporting prisoners. Passed in 2000, it was a response to the escape of the killer of 11-year-old Jeanna North of Fargo, N.D., from a private prisoner transport company. The law is primarily aimed at preventing prisoner escapes, but it also provides for background checks of guards, including fingerprinting, a minimum 100 hours of training, a female guard for female detainees and specialized training in the area of sexual assault.

But former ISC guards Leila Brown and Christina Hall said none of that happened. Each received about 30 minutes of training “focused only on how to shackle an inmate and spray them with pepper spray in the back of the van if they would not comply with orders.” Neither was fingerprinted. There were no background checks. Brown had no prior law enforcement or corrections experience at all. She also said that her former transport partner, Marius Nesby, bragged that he and a prior partner “indulged in sexual favors from female inmates.”

Multiple Lawsuits Filed

Nesby and ISC were sued by Wisconsin detainee Sheenah Arenz, whom the guard groped repeatedly during a transport from Arizona. He was reportedly convicted later of sexually assaulting another detainee in the bathroom of an Illinois rest stop, which perhaps explains why he didn’t show up to defend himself in Arenz’s suit; she won a default judgment of $152,482 at the federal court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on January 10, 2022. See: Arenz v. Inmate Servs. Corp., 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4141 (E.D. Wis.).

New Mexico attorney Laura Schauer Ives is representing “T.L.P.” in a suit for damages over her sexual assault. She won a $3 million default judgment against Johnson on October 25, 2023, in state court for Bernalillo County; however, it is unclear how she will collect from the now-incarcerated former guard. The case is still proceeding against ISC founder and former owner Randy Cagle. See: T.L.P. v. Inmate Svcs. Corp., N.M. 2nd Jud. Dist. (Cty. of Bernalillo), Case No. D-202-CV-2022-02122.

Another of Johnson’s victims, Danielle Sivels, is represented in a separate suit by St. Paul attorneys Megan Curtis and Paul Applebaum, with co-counsel from Kaplan & Grady LLC in Chicago. On a 2015 extradition from Texas for violating her Minnesota probation, Sivels recalled sitting behind the guard as he drove and pulled her arms around his waist, leaving her hand resting on his holstered gun. A fellow guard in the passenger seat looked alarmed, she recalled, but didn’t intervene. She was then forced, handcuffed and at gunpoint, to perform oral sex on Johnson in another rest stop bathroom stall. But she hesitated to report it because she thought Johnson was law enforcement and she wouldn’t be believed. See: Sivels v. Ramsey Cty., USDC (D. Minn.), Case No. 0:23-cv-00894.

ISC, which was based in Arkansas, has reportedly ceased operations. However, the firm agreed in federal court there in September 2023 to pay almost $1 million to settle claims by Colorado detainee Danzel Stearns; as PLN reported, his extradition to Mississippi should have taken 17 hours but instead stretched to nine “hellish” days, all while he was shackled in a seat with just a few stops for food or bathroom breaks. [See: PLN, Feb. 2024, p.60.]

Hankins, now 38, is being held by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville, Texas. Johnson was not yet in BOP custody as of early May 2024. Asked about the convictions, Cagle told a Minneapolis TV reporter to “go fuck yourself.” However, as Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke said after Hankins’ conviction, “The privatization of positions in law enforcement does not change the fact that these individuals can and must be held accountable when they violate our civil rights laws.”


Additional sources: CBS News, KARE, KOB, Minneapolis Star Tribune

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