Oregon prison inmate alleges sexual misconduct

A female prison inmate has sued the Oregon Department of Corrections, charging that sexual abuse by two male prison employees led to personal injury.

This is the latest suit to target the prison for women in the state, which has stood accused of allowing the sexual assault of an inmate before. The state Department of Corrections previously paid $1.2 million to settle claims of sexual abuse by 17 women who either were current or former inmates at the women's prison.

In this case, one of the men named by the woman was arrested earlier this year and charged with two counts of misconduct, including a count of custodial sexual misconduct in the second degree. She has accused the man, 38, of touching her breasts and buttocks while she worked at the physical plant at the prison. The man was a maintenance worker there.

The second had worked as a corrections officer at the prison. She said he kissed her, groped her, then engaged in sexual activity with her. He also watched her take a shower, according to the lawsuit.

Officials with the Oregon Department of Corrections officials would not comment about the most recent suit, but they said they have taken steps to prevent sexual abuse at the prison. A spokeswoman said each facility it runs has a team trained to handle reports of sexual assaults, and each inmate has access to a hotline number to report any suspected acts of sexual assault.

One attorney who said he represented clients in the initial lawsuits against the Department of Corrections said the latest charges made it clear that changes have not been enacted. He said he expected future lawsuits.

While inmates lose some rights when they become incarcerated, being sexually violated is not acceptable. Inmates should report any activity they consider sexual in nature to prison authorities or through the hotline.

Source: Statesman Journal, "Inmate alleges sexual abuse," Dennis Thompson Jr., June 25, 2012

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