January 25, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico today
filed claims of sexual abuse and 'cruel and unusual punishment' against a
McKinley County detention officer, Brian Orr, on behalf of two female inmates
"If proper safeguards had been in place, these
assaults might never have occurred," said Peter Simonson, Executive Director
of the ACLU of New Mexico. "Jails aren't supposed to be pleasant
places. However, prisoners are entitled to basic rights, and protection against
predatory guards certainly is one of them."
During 2003, Sheila
Black and Cristy Herden were incarcerated at the McKinley County jail pursuant
to a housing contract between McKinley County and the Wyoming Department of
Corrections to relieve overcrowding in Wyoming's main prison for women.
Orr repeatedly sexually assaulted the two women and photographed them in the
nude, causing the women physical injury and severe psychological and emotional
distress, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also accuses
the jail's acting warden, Gilbert Lewis, the board of McKinley County
commissioners, and the company that managed the jail, Management and Training
Corporation, of negligence and failure to properly train and supervise
New Mexico ACLU attorneys Kari Morrissey, Phil Davis,
and George Bach are litigating the case in collaboration with Stephen Pevar,
Senior Staff Counsel for the national ACLU.