Washington inmates claim guard raped them

GIG HARBOR, Wash.) -- Two inmates at the women's prison outside Gig Harbor have accused a former corrections officer of raping them and are seeking more than $1 million in damages.

The two inmates at the Washington Corrections Center for Women at Purdy have filed a claim against the Department of Corrections, alleging the officer raped them while he was on shift.

The officer - who is not identified in the claim - has been fired. A claim is the first step toward a lawsuit.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department is investigating the assaults, which the claim says occurred Aug. 11 and Sept. 12. The women blame the Corrections Department for allowing the assaults to happen.

The assaults were "a result of the institution's negligent supervision, training and employment of this individual, as well as the complete lack of safeguards, which could have prevented this assault," the claim states.

Prison officials began hearing rumors of misconduct Sept. 19, said Christine Turull, a public information officer for the prison. The officer was fired Oct. 5 after an internal investigation, she said. He had been with the department since February.

"We have a zero tolerance on staff and inmate sexual relations of any nature," Turull said. She added that both staff and inmates are told of the policy.

Turull would not confirm the sexual assaults happened, saying outside investigations have not been completed.

The sheriff's department finished its investigation Oct. 25 and referred the case to the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office. Prosecutors have not decided whether to file charges.

Under a state law passed in 1999, corrections officers can be charged with a felony if they have sex with inmates, regardless of whether it's consensual.

(iSyndicate; The News Tribune; Nov. 18, 2000). Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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