Family of Woman Allegedly Attacked in Prison Files Suit

Family of Woman Allegedly Attacked in Prison Files Suit

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- The family of a state prison inmate who allegedly was raped by a guard has filed a lawsuit that contends Corrections officials should have had safeguards against the attack and that since then the young woman has been treated badly in prison.

Guard Louis Poleate, 43, was sentenced to zero to five years in prison after pleading guilty to reduced charges of custodial sexual relations with the then 19-year-old inmate. The incident happened two years ago.

The woman's mother said her daughter was diagnosed with a battery of mental problems at age 14, including anti-social urges, post-traumatic stress disorder from sexual abuse as a child, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The suit claims the prison should have had safeguards to prevent the alleged rape.

It also claims the young woman, upon her return to the prison last year for parole violation, was subjected to retaliation, including denial of mental health treatment, food and water, communication with her family and feminine hygiene products.

It said her blanket and pillow were Maced, she was locked in solitary confinement for days and she was subjected to mocking, harassing and belittling behavior.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court for Utah has been assigned to Judge Tena Campbell.

State Department of Corrections spokesman Jack Ford said Friday he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

When complaints about the woman's treatment were made in March, Ford had said she was "the No. 1 problem inmate we have.

"We talk about (her) every day. ... She tears up housing units. No one wants to be around her. We can't get her into the (state) mental hospital if she's a threat to other patients," he said then.

Friday, Ford said her behavior has "mediated. We still talk about her every day, but she's doing better."

Attorney Randy Phillips said that since his client has been moved into the prison mental health unit, "she's had a 180-degree turnaround in behavior."

But he said the prison still has to answer for the earlier treatment, which he described as "something out of the 17th century. It's a violation of the Eighth Amendment provision against cruel and unusual punishment."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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