Thursday, October 20, 2011

ACLU Files Lawsuit for Sexual Assault of Immigrant Women

originally found here.

Williamson County, Corrections Corporation of America and three Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are being sued by the ACLU of Texas on behalf of three immigrant women who were sexually assaulted while in custody of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

According to a press release, the assaults occurred when Donald Dunn, a guard was transporting the women from the Hutto facility to the airport of bus station in Austin.

All three women were seeking asylum in the United States, fleeing sexual assault and extreme violence in their home countries.

“The fact that these women sought sanctuary in the United States -- only to find abuse at the hands of officials they thought would protect them – is wholly inconsistent with America’s self-proclaimed reputation as a beacon of human rights and protector of human dignity,” said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas.

Dunn is accused of assaulting a total of nine women.

Dunn pled guilty to three counts of official oppression and two counts of unlawful restraint based on his assaults of five women. He has been charged with four additional federal counts of criminal violation of civil rights and is awaiting sentencing on two of them.

The lawsuit alleges that ICE, Williamson County and CCA were deliberately indifferent and willfully blind to the fact that Dunn and other employees regularly violated the rule that detainees not be transported without another escort officer of the same gender present.

“Unfortunately, we believe these complaints are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Mark Whitburn, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “Government records reveal that since 2007, 185 complaints have been made to the Department of Homeland Security about sexual abuse in ICE custody, 56 of which were from facilities in Texas. Immigrants in detention are uniquely vulnerable to abuse, and those holding them in custody know it,” Whitburn added.