Levy Konigsberg has filed civil lawsuits on behalf of numerous former female inmates who were sexually abused while incarcerated at Bayview Correctional Facility.
The civil complaints, filed on Tuesday, November 29, 2022 in the State of New York Court of Claims, names the State of New York and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision as defendants. These filings are the first of hundreds that Levy Konigsberg expects to file against the New York State prison system under the Adult Survivors Act, which allows these cases to be filed for a limited one-year time period. The Bayview lawsuits are based on the failure of prison leadership and DOCCS officials to address pervasive staff-on-inmate sexual abuse, while creating a culture in which inmates had little recourse to report offenders and little hope that their complaints would be appropriately investigated.
As set forth in the detailed complaint, Bayview Correctional Facility – a medium-security women’s prison that operated in Manhattan from 1979 until its closure 2012 – was infamous for the widespread and egregious abuse that was regularly perpetuated against female inmates:
“For decades, women incarcerated in New York state prisons have been raped, assaulted, sexually abused, harassed, and verbally degraded by male correctional employees, all while Defendants have had knowledge of, and turned a blind eye to, the sexual misconduct.“
The complaint goes on to discuss how female inmates incarcerated at Bayview faced high risks of being sexually abused by the predominantly male staff, and how correctional officers routinely engaged in sexual conduct with inmates despite a NY State law which holds that incarcerated individuals cannot legally consent. According to the complaint:
“It was well known among the prison population at Bayview that correctional officers regularly had inappropriate sexual relationships with inmates, which ranged from “peeping toms” and verbal harassment to rape using physical force. Officers would bribe the women prisoners with alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, material goods, or privileges in exchange for sexual favors. Officers would “groom” vulnerable inmates by spending time with them, giving them gifts, and treating them like their “girlfriends,” in order to gain their trust and later exploit that trust to initiate sexual contact and manipulate them into staying silent about the abusive relationship.”
“In addition, it was well known among the staff and inmates that certain areas at Bayview in or by the officer’s booth (referred to by inmates as the “bubble”), storage/utility closet (also known as the “slop sink”), bathrooms, stairwells, and inmates’ rooms were not monitored and that frequent sexual activity between officers and inmates occurred there.”
In addition to claims regarding the conditions at Bayview, the complaint also describes how the State and the DOCCS were aware that the harassment, exploitation, and assault of inmates by male staff was a pervasive problem at Bayview given the history of investigations and reports conducted by the DOCCS, studies by third parties, civil lawsuits and criminal proceedings, and sheer number of complaints previously made by women sexually abused at Bayview during their incarceration.
The suit further highlights the pervasive and persistent abuse at Bayview made possible by a culture in which prison leadership enabled the rampant sexual abuse, while male correctional officers and prison staff worked together to avoid accountability, intimidate inmates to suppress their claims, and retaliate against those who did step forward:
“...it was common knowledge amongst the inmates that officers and other prison staff were all “in cahoots,” keeping watch for and protecting one another, and even “trading” prisoners to other officers for sex.“
“As is the case with so many prisoners in this country, prisoners at Bayview knew that if they filed grievances against prison staff, they would face retaliation. Bayview officers would threaten women prisoners with disciplinary action or removal from a program if they refused to engage in sexual conduct or if they reported the conduct.”
You can read one of the full Bayview civil complaints filed by Levy Konigsberg here.
Levy Konigsberg is Leading the Fight for Victims Sexually Abused at Women’s Prisons
Levy Konigsberg’s Bayview filing is the latest development in our ongoing efforts to fight for former female inmates who were sexually abused at jails and prisons across New York and California.
Thanks to groundbreaking legislation, including the NY Adult Survivor’s Act, we’re helping a growing number of women step forward and take advantage of temporary lookback windows and expanded statutes of limitations that give them a meaningful opportunity to obtain justice and the compensation they deserve.
If you have questions about our Bayview sex abuse litigation or a potential claim involving abuse at other NY women’s jails or prisons, we’re here to help. Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.