The watchdog board that oversees complaints against county law-enforcement officers failed to investigate sexual-misconduct allegations filed by transgender inmates housed at a county jail.
The complaints allege sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse by 11 deputies, as well as medical staff, at the George Bailey Detention Facility. The inmates raised a number of other issues, including poor sanitation and withholding of AIDS treatments.
The Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board slated the cases for dismissal at its Nov. 13 meeting, citing a state law that requires such investigations to be completed within a year. Patrick Hunter, CLERB's executive officer, did not respond to CityBeat's request for an explanation why investigators did not meet the deadline.
CityBeat has been tracking CLERB's struggle to catch up with its backlog, particularly under Hunter's predecessor, Carol Trujillo, who resigned in 2010. We also reported on the proliferation of sexual assault at the jail facilities in a cover story earlier this year.
The complaints, which were filed in 2011 by at least two transgender inmates at George Bailey, feature 22 separate allegations. They include:
While escorting two transgender inmates for transfer Deputy 4 commented, “I’m going to miss watching you two shower.”
Deputy 4 gave his cell phone number to an inmate in exchange for being allowed to see the inmate’s breasts.
Deputy 7 referred to transgender/homosexual inmates by saying, “Look it’s the ugliest girls in George Bailey.”
Deputy 6 called transgender/homosexual inmates over the intercom and stated, “I’ve got a delivery of a summer sausage. Can I park it in your rear?” or words to that effect.
Deputy 10 passed the complainant’s cell and stated, “Oh God, Fucking Faggots. We’re surrounded by six, nasty disgusting faggots."
Deputy 5 would not allow transgender inmates to shower unless they were topless so he could see our chests.
Deputies 2, 5, and 6 have on several occasions used the [intercom] box to make crude comments insinuating homosexual sex acts.
Deputy 11 stripped out transgendered inmates in front of male inmates, humiliating and downgrading them.
Deputy 3 smashed an inmate’s hand in the tank door causing severe swelling & pain for the inmate
Medical Staff, on multiple occasions between May 16-18, 2011, “runs out of AIDS cocktail” causing inmates’ distress and possible complications with disease
Deputy 11 repeatedly refused to provide aid and/or request medical attention for an inmate with a compromised immune system causing the inmate to go into distress.
The inmates also accuse a guard of not properly handling their grievances.
If the inmates did, in fact, file grievances about sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, then the Sheriff's Department failed to report those allegations to the federal agency that monitors sexual abuse in detention facilities. According to forms filed with the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the sheriff recorded zero allegations of sexual harassment by staff across all of its facilities in 2011. It recorded one case of staff sexual misconduct, which was deemed "unsubstantiated." The facility where the allegation occurred was not documented.
All transgender inmates are housed in a module at George Bailey specifically reserved for them, according to Lt. Michael Glick of the sheriff's Jail Population Management Unit. New hires receive some training about handling transgender inmates, he says, and training bulletins are circulated periodically that address transgender issues.
"They are considered protective custody inmates and are never mixed with the mainline population," Glick says via email. "They are afforded all the rights and privileges given to our mainline inmates, only they are housed in a separate, secure location for their own protection."
The inmates disagree, saying they were excluded from religious and educational programs. They further claim they were denied access to cleaning carts and that staff failed "to stop sewage from entering the housing unit through drains, showers and toilets, which resulted in unsanitary conditions."
The Sheriff's Department declined to address the allegations due to a state law that prohibits the release of information related to investigations of peace officers.
Update: as a result of this story, the Sheriff's Department agreed to re-examine its policies on transgender inmates. Read our follow-up.
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