One of five employees at the women’s prison named in a lawsuit filed last week by 10 inmates alleging varying degrees of sexual assault and harassment said he was exonerated of all charges by the state.
Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said Tuesday that department officials had not yet been served with the complaint filed Thursday in federal court by attorney Myles Breiner, and it must be reviewed first before commenting.
James Sinatra, supervisor of a janitorial work line, denies he exposed himself to one of the prisoners at the Women’s Community Correctional Center.
The inmate, identified as Jane Doe 10, alleges in the lawsuit that Sinatra approached her Nov. 21 and said he admired her and would take good care of her if she were in his life. She claims he called her into his office Nov. 23 and exposed himself, asking if it would make her happy, the lawsuit said.
Sinatra said a DPS internal investigation resulted in his exoneration and that he continues to work at WCCC.
The inmates are also suing the state, DPS Director Nolan Espinda, WCCC Warden Eric Tanaka and four WCCC guards, namely Chavon Freitas, Taofi Magalei, Brent Bauman and Gauta Vaa.
Schwartz said Sinatra and Vaa remain employed with DPS, but Freitas and Magalei left the department in October and Bauman left Friday.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser could not reach the guards for comment, and the DPS officials declined comment.
The lawsuit alleges the guards coerced and encouraged the women to engage in sexual acts by giving them food, gifts and special privileges. In other cases they were allegedly forced to perform or comply for fear of punishment or some kind of retribution.
The complaint says Tanaka was the warden during the alleged sexual assaults and harassment.
The complaint alleges the state failed to properly screen, hire, train or supervise its employees and guards. It alleges the state wrongly allowed prolonged periods of one-on-one contact with the guards, including being alone in the control room.
It also alleges the state failed to investigate reported ongoing sexual activities between inmates and guards.
The complaint asserts that despite being put on notice for problems about poorly trained and supervised guards supervising female prisoners since 1992 when 22 cases of alleged misconduct were investigated, the state still has not set up adequate practices and procedures to monitor guards and employees while they are supervising female prisoners.
The complaint alleges the design of one WCCC control room “lends itself to sexual abuse” because the guards can directly observe inmates while showering.
Also, it alleges guards are not searched upon entry to the facility and bring in contraband, including drugs, makeup, food, clothing and other items.
The complaint alleges the defendants practiced indifference to the ongoing sexual assaults, violating the inmates’ constitutional rights. It also alleges negligence on the part of Espinda, Tanaka and the other defendants, who breached their duty to ensure the safety of the inmates.
Magalei, an adult corrections officer, is accused by four inmates of sexual assault. Jane Does 1, 2 and 4 allege he forced them to perform oral sex on him, saying they complied for fear of retribution. Jane Doe 3 said he exposed himself to her on two occasions.
Jane Doe 1 alleges he began making inappropriate sexual comments in 2013, then progressed to fondling in exchange for food.
His actions allegedly progressed, forcing her in August 2015 to perform oral sex on him in the staff bathroom.
Jane Doe 2 also alleges Magalei would hold her back from functions and demand she perform oral sex, occurring at least 20 times from March through October 2015.
From September to October 2015, Magalei allegedly regularly called Jane Does 2 and 4 out of the medication line and forced them into sexual acts. Two other guards got concerned and suspected Magalei, the complaint alleges. When Magalei allegedly tried calling Jane Doe 4 to the control room, another guard stopped her and reported it to the watch commander, the lawsuit said.
Jane Doe 1 alleges Freitas, a female guard, in September 2015 began to encourage the inmate to stay with her in the control room, providing sick notes to get out of work and classes. She alleges Freitas coerced her into having sex in the control room and other areas of the prison, which continued until Oct. 25, 2015. Freitas allegedly gave her gifts of clothes, use of her cellphone and access to her Facebook account.
Freitas allegedly proposed marriage in October 2015. She accepted, and Freitas gave her a white gold wedding ring and promised her financial support, the lawsuit says.
Bauman is accused of sexually assaulting three inmates from September to November 2015.
Jane Does 5, 6 and 7 allege he coerced them into performing oral sex on him in the control room. He allegedly used his cellphone in one case to record the act.
In exchange he gave them makeup, candy, e-cigarettes and access to a cellphone and the internet, the lawsuit says.
In July 2015 Vaa, another guard, allegedly began a relationship with Jane Doe 8. They allegedly had sex in the control station while another inmate served as a lookout. In exchange he gave her crystal methamphetamine, smoking paraphernalia, coffee, makeup and needles.
In December 2015 her cellmate, Jane Doe 9, came back from her shower and witnessed the two having sex, the complaint says. Vaa gave the cellmate crystal meth in exchange for her silence, the complaint alleges. Four days later Jane Doe 9 attempted suicide, causing partial paralysis from the neck down. While she was hospitalized, “much to her shock and dismay,” Vaa was assigned to guard her for three weeks, and he allegedly pressured her to keep quiet. She suffered emotional trauma and feared for her life, and suffers from permanent brain and nerve damage, the lawsuit says.