A woman jailed at Illinois’ largest women’s prison claims she was raped by a male-bodied transgender person who was placed in her housing unit last year.
The lawyer for the alleged rapist appeared to blame the woman for the controversy. “Transphobia exists everywhere, both out here on the street and in prison, so it’s not surprising that there are some people who feel uncomfortable with [the transgender man’s] presence in a women’s prison,” the lawyer said.
The local Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) affiliate WTTW reported on the legal action the woman is taking:
In a federal lawsuit filed last week, a Jane Doe inmate at the Logan Correctional Center in central Illinois said that after being sexually assaulted in June 2019, she was coerced by a supervisory officer into denying the attack took place and then punished for filing a “false” complaint under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
The suit names Logan’s acting warden Beatrice Calhoun as a defendant, along with officers Brent Keeler and Todd Sexton.
Two transgender inmates who were housed in men’s prisons, Strawberry Hampton and Janiah Monroe, have sued IDOC separately in recent years, demanding they be moved to Logan because they’d allegedly been the target of sexual harassment and abuse from male inmates and prison employees. Alan Mills, who leads the Uptown People’s Law Center – a Chicago-based legal group, which has represented both Hampton and Monroe – confirmed Monroe is the inmate who is being accused in this case, though he was dismissive of the allegations against her.
The plaintiff’s Peoria-based attorneys said in the complaint:
The transfer of transgender inmates from male to female prisons has been a contentious policy within IDOC. In an attempt to justify the transfers, Defendants Sexton, Calhoun, Keeler and currently other unknown IDOC employees covered up the sexual assault of Plaintiff and tried to falsely classify it as consensual, to keep it from being considered a PREA violation.
“According to the new lawsuit, Monroe, who is identified as a transgender inmate who ‘identifies as female, but still has male genitalia’ was moved into the plaintiff’s housing unit on June 18, 2019, and immediately began ‘express(ing) an interest’ in the plaintiff.
“Plaintiff was terrified of this inmate as the inmate was much bigger and stronger than Plaintiff,” the lawsuit stated. “Plaintiff had also heard that this inmate had assaulted prior cellmates and had been convicted of murder.”
The article stated that the plaintiff was actually punished for reporting the rape when she “learned IDOC had determined she committed a ‘major infraction’ for allegedly filing a false PREA complaint. That led to months of continued punishment during her continued incarceration, the complaint states.”
Meanwhile, Monroe’s attorney chalked it up to “transphobia.”
“A deeper point here is that since Ms. Monroe was transferred to Logan, she’s made a lot of friends and has found substantial support among other prisoners and some staff,” Mills said. “But transphobia exists everywhere, both out here on the street and in prison, so it’s not surprising that there are some people who feel uncomfortable with her presence in a women’s prison.”
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