Teen-age prisoner raped by inmate, infected with HIV
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A teenage inmate who was incarcerated with adults was raped by a prisoner who infected the teenager with HIV, according to a federal lawsuit that accuses the Louisiana jail of negligence.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, also accuses East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux and two deputies of violating the teen’s constitutional rights and disregarding a federal law that should have kept the teen segregated from the general population inmates. It seeks unspecified monetary damages from the sheriff, the jail’s warden and another deputy.
The teen was 17 years old, met the criteria for a “high risk sexual victim” under the Prison Rape Elimination Act and should have remained segregated, the suit said. Instead, it said, the teen was transferred from the juvenile wing and attacked last February by a man awaiting trial on rape and robbery charges.
“This sexual predator, armed with a deadly disease, was at high risk not only of raping other inmates, but infecting them with HIV. He should have been put in isolation to protect the other inmates,” the suit said.
But a sheriff’s office spokeswoman, Casey Rayborn Hicks, disputes that the teen should have been classified as a high-risk sexual victim and said he was placed in general population only after he turned 18. Hicks said investigators believe the rape occurred in May 2017, roughly three months after his 18th birthday.
“Unfortunately, those that file lawsuits against the Sheriff’s Office can make claims that have no merit and must be disputed in court,” Hicks said in an email Tuesday. “In addition, when such inmates make claims in reference to their medical status, due to legal restrictions, the Sheriff’s Office cannot publicly refute these claims even when they have no merit.”
The suit says the teen, who was awaiting trial in a burglary case, was 5-foot-10 (1.7 meters), weighed 125 pounds (56 kilograms) and is “mildly mentally handicapped” from fetal alcohol syndrome. His age, size and “mental makeup” left him at high risk of being sexually assaulted in jail, according to the suit.