At­tor­ney: Trans­gen­der in­mate sex­u­ally as­saulted again

Latest in a se­ries of in­ci­dents with Ash­ley Diamond

GA Voice - - Georgia News - By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS www.thege­or­

Ash­ley Diamond, the trans­gen­der Ge­or­gia in­mate who filed a fed­eral law­suit against the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions (GDC), says that she has been sex­u­ally as­saulted again.

The rev­e­la­tion comes fol­low­ing a July 5 court fil­ing in Diamond’s case against the state, which be­gan in Fe­bru­ary when the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter (SPLC) filed suit say­ing she had been de­nied hor­mone ther­apy, sex­u­ally as­saulted by other in­mates and tor­mented by in­mates and staff.

This latest fil­ing states that on or about June 10, Diamond was in the process of be­ing trans­ported from Rut­ledge State Prison to Au­gusta Med­i­cal Cen­ter for a med­i­cal ap­point­ment. To fa­cil­i­tate the trip, she was tem­po­rar­ily held at Ge­or­gia State Prison, the same prison she was trans­ferred from in May over safety con­cerns. Diamond al­leges that the in­mate who was in the hold­ing cell with her on June 10 sex­u­ally as­saulted her.

Ac­cord­ing to Diamond, the per­pe­tra­tor threat­ened her on the way back to Rut­ledge State Prison, warn­ing her not to say any­thing about the at­tack. She re­ported the in­ci­dent to GDC of­fi­cials upon her re­turn, and the al­leged per­pe­tra­tor was trans­ferred to another fa­cil­ity on June 29.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors con­tinue to look into the in­ci­dent and a Prison Rape Elim­i­na­tion Act (PREA) com­plaint has been filed.

“What this means is Miss Diamond is still not out of harm’s way,” says the SPLC’s Chinyere Ezie, lead at­tor­ney in Diamond’s law­suit. “We’re hop­ing that the court will call the par­ties for a hear­ing sooner rather than later. We are con­cerned about Miss Diamond’s cur­rent sta­tus. The court is in the best po­si­tion to be­gin to ad­dress some of her con­cerns.”

Re­tal­i­a­tion claims made against war­den

Diamond, a Rome, Ge­or­gia, na­tive who has per­formed as a drag queen in At­lanta, also al­leges that Rut­ledge State Prison War­den Shay Hatcher, who is a de­fen­dant in the case, shared in­for­ma­tion from the PREA com­plaint about the June 10 in­ci­dent with other in­mates. Her at­tor­neys claim Hatcher did so in re­tal­i­a­tion against Diamond for fil­ing the law­suit.

“We un­der­stand the re­cent dis­clo­sure of the sub­stance of her sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions to be an in­stance of re­tal­ia­tory con­duct,” Ezie says. “PREA is very clear that sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions are to be treated con­fi­den­tially. In spite of that, the war­den dis­closed the iden­tity of the per­son who Miss Diamond made the al­le­ga­tions about to other pris­on­ers, which has led to daily threats and be­ing called a snitch, which puts her in a great deal of dan­ger in the prison en­vi­ron­ment.”

The July 5 court fil­ing cites a June 29 in­ci­dent in which an in­mate re­port­edly told Diamond to re­cant the sex­ual as­sault com­plaint “or else,” and in­ci­dents on July 5 and 7 where groups of in­mates con­fronted her, call­ing her “a snitch.” Diamond says the threats are on­go­ing and that she is afraid to leave her dor­mi­tory, in­clud­ing for meals, with­out an es­cort.

Hatcher de­nies the al­le­ga­tions made against him, and GDC of­fi­cials did not re­turn a re­quest for com­ment on the mat­ter.

‘Take that garbage off your face’

On July 20, Diamond’s at­tor­neys were con­tacted by an un­named in­di­vid­ual who claims they wit­nessed Diamond be­ing put into soli­tary con­fine­ment that af­ter­noon for wear­ing makeup.

They are still gath­er­ing de­tails on the in­ci­dent, but Diamond, who was wear­ing lip­stick, foun­da­tion and eye­liner, was re­port­edly told by a guard “to take that garbage off your face” and she re­fused. Diamond’s at­tor­neys say they plan on fil­ing ad­di­tional pa­pers with the court as early as this week with de­tails of the in­ci­dent. Mean­while, they’re stay­ing fo­cused on one goal in par­tic­u­lar—get­ting Diamond out of Rut­ledge State Prison.

“The Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions should fol­low the fed­eral PREA guide­lines. They out­line a very de­tailed pro­ce­dure which is cur­rently the law that calls for in­di­vid­u­al­ized de­ter­mi­na­tion for where to place a trans­gen­der in­mate,” Ezie says. “We’ve re­ally yet to see any ev­i­dence that this pro­ce­dure has been fol­lowed in Ge­or­gia. Rut­ledge is an in­ap­pro­pri­ate fa­cil­ity be­cause half the de­fen­dants re­side there.”

As to why Diamond hasn’t been placed in a women’s prison, Ezie says they are ask­ing them­selves the same ques­tion.

“The fed­eral PREA guide­lines are like- wise clear that pris­ons should not have a blan­ket pol­icy of where to house trans­gen­der fe­male or male pris­on­ers,” she says. “Ob­vi­ously from Miss Diamond’s story alone, there are rea­sons to have con­cerns about the wis­dom of that process.”

Ash­ley Diamond says the in­ci­dent hap­pened in a hold­ing cell at her for­mer prison. (Photo cour­tesy South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter)

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