A transgender inmate says she was raped at a men’s prison hours after a judge threw out her request to block corrections officers from keeping her in a disciplinary unit.
Lindsay Saunders-Velez claims she had been threatened, harassed and assaulted since entering Colorado’s prison system last spring for violating her plea deal in a menacing case.
The prisoner filed a lawsuit against the state’s corrections agency in July, branding the system “discriminatory and dangerous” for transgender offenders,The Daily Independent reports.
Last month, her lawyers requested a judge not send Saunders-Velez to her jail’s “punishment pod” for a disciplinary infraction, saying she could end up with inmates who had tormented her.
The judge said the attorneys failed to prove an imminent risk, and rejected their request .
However, the 20-year-old was attacked during her time in the pod and needed more than a week in the infirmary recover, according to her attorney, Paula Greisen.
“This issue is not going to go away,” she said: “We’re going to fight it until these individuals are treated with the respect they deserve.”
Her lawsuit states that it was after she entered an adult prison on a three-year jail term in May last year and was sent to Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility that her problems with other inmates began.
Court records detail incidents in which male prisoners frequently pulled down a privacy screen shielding Saunders-Velez from view as she used the bathroom in her cell.
She said other prisoners threatened her, and in December she reported an inmate sexually assaulted her during a brief transfer to another Colorado prison.
“To escape,” Saunders-Velez swallowed razors and was sent to a hospital before being reassigned to “territorial”, her attorneys said.