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SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUITS

LAWSUITS FOR SEXUAL ABUSE IN WOMEN’S PRISONS

Call to Learn More About a New Extended Deadline for Filing in New York

Women who were sexually abused while incarcerated at correctional facilities in New York now have meaningful options to seek justice and compensation for their losses—including civil lawsuits filed under the Adult Survivors Act.

Signed into law on May 24, 2022, the New York Adult Survivors Act opens legal pathways through which victims of sexual assault can file lawsuits and seek a financial recovery, even if their abuse occurred years or decades ago. This gives inmates the power to call out prison abuse and seek justice for everything that was done to them.

Levy Konigsberg represents hundreds of women who were sexually abused in New York prisons and jails. If you have questions about a potential claim, we want to help. Our prison abuse attorneys are fighting inmate abuse, will you join the battle?

A Dark Legacy: Sexual Abuse in New York Women’s Jails and Prisons

Over the course of decades, numerous court cases have implicated New York’s female jails and prisons in allegations of sexual misconduct. This includes criminal cases against corrections officers who sexually assaulted inmates and claims against DOCCS leadership accused of concealing and covering up abuse.

This unchecked abuse has left a dark legacy on the lives of many former inmates and extends to nearly every women’s jail and prison in the state. Now, survivors are fighting back.

At Levy Konigsberg, we’re dedicated to helping former female inmates abused at any jail, prison, or correctional facility in New York, including:

Sexual Abuse at Bayview Correctional Facility

The now-defunct Bayview Correctional Facility was a medium-security women’s prison in Manhattan that closed in 2012. During its operation, numerous investigations and legal filings have confirmed that the facility experienced a systemic problem with sexual abuse and misconduct.

  • In 1985, a DOCS Inspector General report revealed findings from two investigations initiated after a female inmate became pregnant. It found that in 1983 and 1984, six guards and a sergeant were suspended without pay for improper relationships with inmates. The investigations noted widespread sexual misconduct, including guards coercing and bribing female inmates to engage in sexual activity. The report is evidence that sexual abuse at Bayview dates back decades and that prison officials knew about the abuse but failed to protect inmates.
  • In a 2011 federal survey, female inmates housed at Bayview reported sexual abuse and misconduct at a rate more than 5x the national average.
  • In 2015, a former Bayview inmate was awarded $360,000 following claims that she had sexual contact and non-consensual sex with a prison guard who impregnated her in 2001. The guard pleaded guilty to 3rd degree rape in a separate case.
  • In 2014, the DOCCS was found guilty of negligent supervision after it failed to protect inmates, including one who was raped and impregnated during her incarceration between 2008 and 2012, from an officer who had received multiple complaints. The officer pleaded guilty to multiple counts of rape in a separate criminal case.

Levy Konigsberg is investigating potential claims from dozens of former inmates who claim they were sexually abused while incarcerated at Bayview and continues to receive calls from survivors with claims dating back decades. Our work for Bayview victims was also profiled in a Daily News cover story.

Read more about Bayview sexual abuse lawsuits.

Sexual Abuse at Taconic and Bedford Hills Correctional Facilities

Taconic Correctional Facility is a medium/minimum security women’s prison located across the street from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a max-security women’s prison, in the town of Bedford.

Like other New York State women’s prisons, Taconic and Bedford Hills have a history of staff-on-inmate abuse documented in complaints, DOCCS records, and criminal and civil legal filings that date back decades. Some of these include:

  • In 2019, Officer Iran Colon was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to third-degree criminal sex act stemming from misconduct with a female inmate between May and September 2017.
  • In 2018, Garth Trail, a former head cook at Taconic, pleaded guilty to one count of 3rd degree criminal sexual act connected to an incident with an inmate in September 2017.
  • In 2017, Officer Jeffrey Green pleaded guilty to one federal charge of violating the constitutional rights of an inmate by forcibly sexually assaulting her in March 2016. In a separate civil suit, Green was ordered to pay his victim $550,000 in damages.
  • In 2014, Officer Richard Rodriguez pleaded guilty to one count of 3rd degree rape after engaging in sexual intercourse with an inmate in December 2013.
  • In 2012, a jury found Officer Frederick Brenyah guilty on multiple counts, including 3rd degree attempted rape, for engaging in sexual acts with an inmate in September 2010.
  • In 2001, the state agreed to a $225,000 settlement with a former inmate after a New York Court of Claims found the DOCCS 100% liable for repeated forcible rape by an officer at Bedford Hills.
  • In 1998, Bedford Hills correction officer Thomas Haynes pleaded guilty to 3rd degree rape after admitting that he had sexual intercourse with an inmate in February 1997.

Sexual Abuse at Albion Correctional Facility

Albion Correctional Facility is a New York State medium-security women’s prison that has been mired in years of alleged and substantiated abuse claims.

  • In 2022, the Correctional Association of New York (CANY) published findings from a monitoring visit to Albion conducted in June 2022. The report noted that inmates frequently reported incidents of abusive staff behavior, that over a quarter (28.6%) of respondents reported “filing an OSI or PREA report in response to sexual assault or abuse at Albion,” and that complaints were poorly addressed or met with retaliation, including threats and disciplinary tickets. Inmates who shared their experiences noted that correctional officers often made lewd and inappropriate comments, misused cameras to watch inmates change or shower, or took advantage of a lack of camera surveillance in certain areas to commit abusive acts. One inmate reported an attempted rape by an officer who had been circling the dorm one evening and shining his flashlight into cubicles. Another inmate also spoke of an officer who loitered around the dorm area with a flashlight attempting to sexually assault inmates at night.
  • In 2020, Albion was one of several state prisons named in a federal lawsuit that accused the DOCCS of failing to protect female inmates from abuse by male staff.
  • In August 2020, Albion officer James W. Castonguay pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal sex act against two female inmates.
  • In February 2020, Albion officer David Stupnick was sentenced to six months in jail and lifetime sex offender registration for his sexual involvement with two inmates.
  • In 2019, Officer Adam Brokaw was sentenced to jail and probation after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree sexual abuse for a sexual act involving a victim who was unable to give consent. The incident occurred during a party at a home in Batavia.
  • In 2015, a New York court awarded a female inmate raped by an Albion guard in 2007 $605,750 in damages after finding that the state knew of the abuse but failed to act. The plaintiff was also awarded $500,000 by a federal court. The officer, Donald Lasker Jr., pleaded guilty to rape.

Read more about our work representing Albion Correctional sex abuse victims.

Sexual Abuse at Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility

Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility allows eligible inmates to participate in discipline and drug treatment programs in exchange for leniency and lighter sentences. However, records indicate that the programs are rife with physical, mental, and sexual abuse against inmates.

  • In 2020, Lakeview Shock was implicated in a federal lawsuit over staff-on-inmate sexual abuse that accused officers of covering up assaults and threatening inmates to remain silent.
  • In 2018, Officer Matthew Antolini was charged with official misconduct for having an unlawful relationship with an inmate.
  • In 2017, Officer James Beam Jr. was charged with 3rd degree rape and multiple counts of official misconduct over an alleged relationship with an inmate.
  • In 2013, a Times Union article featuring stories from former female inmates abused during their incarceration included one Lakeview inmate who alleged that she was raped by a guard.

Read more about sexual abuse at Lakeview Shock.

Sexual Abuse at Rikers Island / Rose M. Singer Center

Like prisons, New York jails have struggled with a pervasive culture of abuse and cover ups. This is especially true of the Rose M. Singer Center (or “Rosie’s) on Rikers Island, a female jail operated by the New York City Department of Correction (NYCDOC).

In operation since 1988, the Rose M. Singer Center has as dark a history of staff-on-inmate abuse as state prisons. In one notable civil case brought against the City of New York by a former inmate who was raped by three male guards, expert testimony showed that a toxic culture and “code of silence” among guards caused female inmates at Rosie’s to report sexual assaults at twice the national average.

The latest incident occurred in June 2022, when the NYC Department of Correction fired Riker’s Correctional Officer Leonard McNeill after an administrative law judge found that he repeatedly had sex with a detainee, furnished her drugs, and pressured her to delay filing a report over her rape by another officer. The charges against McNeill, whose actions were described as “outrageous misconduct” and “completely unacceptable,” were related to a series of incidents at Rosie’s in 2015 that led to a $500,000 settlement paid by the city in 2019.

Other notable incidents:

  • In 2019, New York City paid $1.2 million to settle claims involving a female inmate who was raped by multiple guards at the Rose M. Singer Center.
  • In 2018, the City paid $425,000 to a female inmate who was sexually abused at Rosie’s.
  • In 2017, RMSC guard Jose Cosme pleaded guilty to a felony criminal sex act for an incident with a female inmate in 2015. The victim later reached a $500,000 settlement with the City.
  • In 2017, the City paid two former inmates $1.2 million to settle claims that they were raped and sexually assaulted by a male guard.

The history of abuse at Rosie’s dates back through its entire existence, as do the claims of coercion, cover-ups, and systemic failures by guards and DOC leadership. In addition to our representation of former inmates at NY State women’s prisons, our team at Levy Konigsberg is also working with female detainees and inmates who were sexually abused at Rosie’s and other jails across the state.

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