Eight women who work as guards and counselors at a California correctional facility are suing the state for ignoring their reports of sexual harassment and abuse in male wards. The suit, which was filed by feminist activist and attorney Gloria Allred, alleges that no actions were taken when female staff reported sexual misconduct at the Herman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility in Chino. Female staff repeatedly reported that male inmates exposed themselves, masturbated, threw urine, and grabbed women working at the facility. The suit alleges, however, that state officials did not act to penalize or discourage the inmates from acting inappropriately and that — in some cases — the reports of sexual abuse were never forwarded to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution, the Daily Bulletin reports.
“If these young men had committed these same acts in a public place outside of the facility, they would have been arrested, prosecuted, and if convicted, be sentenced and required to register as sex offenders,” Allred told the Daily Bulletin. Instead, the women filing the suit say that their reports were dismissed or discounted and they were ostracized by co-workers for not being able to “handle the job,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The suit comes after a February 2007 report by the California Office of the Inspector General found that “existing methods of addressing sexual misconduct by wards at (the prison) are ineffective, resulting in repeated and continuing misconduct by wards,” the Daily Bulletin reports.
The Stark facility holds over 750 male offenders between the ages of 18 to 25. In addition to vocational, counseling, and substance abuse programs, Stark also runs a sex offender treatment program.