A lawsuit filed on behalf of two Hawai'i female prison inmates who claimed they were sexually assaulted by a corrections officer in a privately run prison in Colorado has been settled for an undisclosed amount of money.Honolulu lawyer Myles Breiner, who sued on behalf of the inmates, said the settlement was for a "significant amount of money," but said he cannot be more specific."This a private settlement among private parties, and I'm obliged not to disclose the dollar amount," Breiner said. "The parties are satisfied with the agreed upon settlement, and the plaintiffs have been sufficiently compensated. ... It was the right thing to do to take responsibility and acknowledge the injuries of these two jail inmates."Out-of court settlements where the state is required to make payment become public record because public money is involved, but that won't happen in this case.
Breiner said the state won't have to pay any share of the settlement because Hawai'i was indemnified against inmate lawsuits under its contract with GRW Corp. to hold the women inmates at the Brush Correctional Facility in Colorado.The inmates, 38 and 26, reported they were assaulted in the Brush Correctional Facility law library the evening of Jan. 8, 2005.
The inmates claimed corrections officer Russell E. Rollison pushed one of them against a wall and threatened to write up both inmates for misconduct if they did not perform a sex act for him.One of the inmates saved semen from the encounter that was later turned over to investigators with the Colorado Department of Corrections.
He was sentenced to two years' probation and 60 hours of community service, according to Colorado court records.
Gil Walker, chief executive officer of Tennessee-based GRW, did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the settlement.
Brush prison officials have said the sex was consensual and that the inmates planned the encounter as a way to get transferred back to Hawai'i, and as the basis for a lawsuit.
The allegations of the two Hawai'i inmates became public when Colorado authorities launched an investigation into charges of sexual misconduct involving prison staff and a total of eight inmates from Colorado, Wyoming and Hawai'i. Another former Brush guard, Fredrick Woller, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment of a Wyoming inmate and was fined $200; and former Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor false-reporting charge in connection with Woller's case. All Hawai'i inmates at Brush were moved to the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., which is operated by Corrections Corp. of America.The two female inmates are now serving sentences at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua, Breiner said.Hawai'i now pays more than $50 million a year to house more than 2,000 men and women inmates on the Mainland because there is no room for them in prisons in Hawai'i.