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Kauai warden prevails in lawsuit alleging discrimination

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    Kauai Community Correctional Center Warden Neal Wagatsuma, left, used a cellphone while walking out of U.S. District Court in Honolulu with Hawaii Deputy Attorney General Nelson Nabeta.

A federal jury found today that a warden at a Kauai jail did not subject female inmates to sexual humiliation and discrimination, and did not retaliate against a jail social worker who brought the suit.

After a week of deliberations, the jury voted unanimously in favor of defendants Neal Wagatsuma and the state of Hawaii.

Former jail social worker Carolyn Ritchie’s lawsuit accused Wagatsuma of forcing women at Kauai Community Correctional Center to watch films depicting rape, and to divulge details about their sexual pasts while being filmed.

Wagatsuma testified during the trial that the violent sexual films were part of a program he created that includes what he calls “shame therapy.”

He said there have long been rumors he shows inmates pornography, but “I would never do that.”

The warden showed films such as “Finding Mr. Goodbar,” a 1970s drama in which the female protagonist is raped and murdered, court records showed.

Wagatsuma said he yells and uses profanity during the sessions. Words such as “whore” and “batuna,” a Hawaii slang term for a woman who trades sex for crystal meth, were used in appropriate contexts, he said.

Ritchie’s lawsuit said that woman had come to her to complain about the sessions. It also alleged the warden denied women the same work release opportunities as men.

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  • Self taught shame therapy, cussing, belittling, profanity, humiliation, must do wonders for their self esteem. Sounds like Oedipus rejection complex to me. Pretty weird, Wags. Is this state sanctioned rehab therapy? Where is the ACLU when you really need them?

  • The 1970’s movie Looking for Mr Goodbar is pretty dated. How about Wakatsuma show the “I Spit on Your Grave” movie series to female inmates where woman are savagely assaulted by bad men but the woman in the end gets ‘justice’ by getting back at the men who attacked her. Like arm chair psychiatrist Wakatsuma, will that help to build self esteem for female inmates? Maybe the court case agaimst Wakatsuma was not successful but something is really wrong with Wakatsuma and how he is running the Kauai prison. You are right rigormortis, where is the ACLU cause this prison warden’s scared straight, surrogate tough father figure wannabe therapy sounds like he has unsuccessfully dealt with some serious personal issues with women.

    • Sadly, the mediocrity of gender equality in the work place has risen to gender wars of inequality. Females blaming males in authority of doing unconventional things to move up the food chain. This is something Hawaii PSDs, Corrections, appears to have become accustomed to in their day to day operations. Rather than being the solution to the problem, they instigate problems, blame others for everything, and when the heat comes back to them, they play the poor me sympathy card and blame it on female inequality. Grow-up and do your work people! Most importantly, can’t you just get along?

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