Thursday, February 06, 2020

Alleged staff-on-staff sexual assault at Stiles Unit

A recent lawsuit alleged three prison guards at the Stiles Unit in Beaumont sexually assaulted a female colleague, The Appeal reported in an item I'd missed from December. The three were indicted last year for unlawful restraint of a public servant and official oppression. The victim's attorney said "he interviewed other female correctional officers at Stiles while investigating Carver’s case, and they told him that sexual harassment was routine and that they were ignored when they filed grievances."

TDCJ spokesman Jeremy Desel told The Appeal that in 2018, "there were 52 alleged incidents of sexual assault and 47 alleged incidents of improper sexual activity with persons in custody by TDCJ staff; one report in each category came from Stiles." I see where that data comes from, but I also see seemingly conflicting numbers reported by the agency.

According to the agency's 2018 Prison Rape Elimination Act report, there were 775 allegations of staff on offender sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or voyeurism in 2018. "Of the 541 sexual abuse allegations, 74 (13.6%) were identified by OIG as meeting the elements of the Texas Penal Code for Sexual Assault, Aggravated Sexual Assault, or Improper Sexual Activity with a Person in Custody." However, only 20 were ruled "substantiated." Most of the 775 cases reported were dubbed unsubstantiated or unfounded.

I don't know how to square data from PREA and the Ombudsman report Desel cited. 

Nationally, allegations of sexual abuse by staff are more common than allegations against inmates, with about 6% being dubbed substantiated. Readers will recall Texas youth prisons allegedly have high levels of staff-on-inmate sexual assaults. But male guards assaulting female guards in groups is a whole other kettle of fish. Anyone else surely would be prosecuted for sexual assault, not unlawful restraint and official oppression.

That sort of hostile work environment could also play a big role in why the agency has trouble retaining female staff. 

RELATED: #MeToo among Texas women prison guards.


Anonymous said...


Do you believe what's described in the article meets the definition of "sexual assault" under the Texas Penal Code?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

That's what was claimed in the lawsuit, I suppose it's up to a jury to decide.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what is going on at Stiles but it is a hot bed of activity. According to a letter I received from an inmate suicides are a monthly if not weekly occurrence and gang violence is a way of life. Not to mention that on February 14th three personnel were injured in an attack. If you are an inmate you do not want to be sent there and if you are a guard you do not want to work there. Another reason for independent oversight.