Federal lawsuit accuses Illinois Department of Corrections of cover-up
A female prisoner has alleged that she was raped by a biological-male transgender inmate and says the prison tried to cover up the attack.
According to a federal lawsuit filed last week, the victim says her alleged rape by a transgender fellow inmate in an Illinois women’s prison was the subject of an attempted cover-up by the Illinois Department of Corrections.
The woman in question is referred to in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, a pseudonym, and is a prisoner at the Logan Correctional Center in central Illinois.
She claims she was strong-armed by a supervisory officer into denying the assault had occurred after the incident took place in June 2019, local news outlet WTTW reported.
Jane Doe says she was subsequently punished by the correctional officer for filing a “false” complaint, according to the lawsuit.
In the complaint, the plaintiff’s attorneys argue that “the transfer of transgender inmates from male to female prisons has been a contentious policy within IDOC.”
“In an attempt to justify the transfers, Defendants Sexton, Calhoun, Keeler and currently other unknown IDOC employees covered up the sexual assault of Plaintiff and tried to falsely classify it as consensual, to keep it from being considered a PREA violation,” the complaint adds.
Two transgender inmates, Strawberry Hampton and Janiah Monroe, have separately sued the IDOC, alleging they’d been abused and sexually harassed by male inmates.
The pair demands they be housed with women at Logan, according to WTTW.
One of the transgender inmates, Janiah Monroe, is referenced in Jane Doe’s lawsuit.
Monroe, who “identifies as female, but still has male genitalia,” moved into the plaintiff’s housing unit in June of last year and immediately began “express(ing) an interest” in her, according to the lawsuit.
Jane Doe “was terrified of this inmate as the inmate was much bigger and stronger,” the complaint reads.
“Plaintiff had also heard that this inmate had assaulted prior cellmates and had been convicted of murder.”
The same day, Jane Doe said she was raped by Monroe, who is not listed as a defendant in the complaint.
Jane Doe was then moved to the prison’s Health Care Unit and eventually interviewed by Todd Sexton, a correctional officer.
Sexton allegedly told the plaintiff that “that he did not believe her and he pressured Plaintiff to say there was no sexual assault.”
Sexton is named as a defendant in the lawsuit alongside acting word Beatrice Calhoun and fellow correctional officer Brent Keeler.
Jane Doe claimed in the lawsuit that she was “coerced” into providing a false statement.
She filed a grievance with the IDOC and was transferred to another correctional facility roughly 40 miles from Logan.
The IDOC determined she’d committed a “major infraction” by filing a false complaint, according to the lawsuit.
Alan Mills, the attorney for the inmate accused of raping Jane Doe, told WTTW that the IDOC had determined the sexual assault claim was unfounded.
“Our understanding is the Department of Corrections investigated this incident and found that it was consensual sex, not rape,” he said.
“So the underlying claim here, I think, is without merit.”
According to Mills, his client has been targeted due to transphobia.
“A deeper point here is that since Ms. Monroe was transferred to Logan, she’s made a lot of friends and has found substantial support among other prisoners and some staff,” he said.
“But transphobia exists everywhere, both out here on the street and in prison, so it’s not surprising that there are some people who feel uncomfortable with her presence in a women’s prison.”