Monday, January 21, 2008

Crime without Punishment: Sexual Assault at Hutto

In May of 2007, a guard had sex with a female detainee at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center.
Federal law criminalizes sex between detained inmates and guards, regardless of whether the relations are consensual. However, ICE falls within a loophole- only recently fixed through Congressional action- that prevented the prosecution of the guard.

Following an open records request filed by the Taylor Daily Press, ICE released 80 pages of the investigation (the original document contains over 400 pages, including names, ages, identifying information, a photo of the alleged victim and detailed testimony from both parties. The rest is redacted or blacked out.)

Please read Tessa Mole's whole article in the Taylor Daily Press. Below are highlights.

On Saturday, May 19, a guard was videotaped just before midnight crawling out of a detainee's room, “in an attempt to avoid the (security) camera.” ...Security officers monitoring the cameras saw him leaving the woman's room and contacted CCA supervisors.

According to the ICE reports, later viewings of security tapes show the guard entering the room on two occasions that night - once at 11:29 p.m. and leaving at 11:36, when he is shown “adjusting his pants around the belt area.” He reentered at 11:37 p.m. before crawling out about 10 minutes later.

The outcome of the investigation, which included testimony from both parties, semen samples found on the concrete floor of the room, fingerprints on the toilet seat and sink and surveillance tapes of the common area where the guard patrolled, was nothing.

Both state and federal prosecutors have since said they could not pursue the case.

The guard was immediately placed on administrative leave; he was officially fired the next day.

... the alleged victim's son was in the room during the sexual encounter, according to the ICE report. The son's age was not reported but the victim's room contained a crib.

Jana McCown, first assistant district attorney, said the incident and possible charges of official oppression did not fall under Texas law because T. Don Hutto is a federal detention facility.