NEW ORLEANS — A transgender woman has filed a federal lawsuit after allegedly being brutally beaten and raped by inmates in Tangipahoa Parish Prison last year.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans, mentions that the prison knew of the transwoman's gender upon her entering the facility, but she was allegedly placed into the general population and was abused shortly after. The complaint says that while the inmates were beating and raping the plaintiff, who's pseudonym in the case is 'Jane Doe,' she called for help but was ignored by deputies. According to the suit, one of the deputies even told her to "shut up" or else she would be shot.
The Advocate reported that Doe has suffered several broken bones in her face. Her mental well-being has also suffered as a result of this incident, according to Samuel Lawrence Fuller, one of the attorneys representing Doe.
"This has affected her mentally in pretty sever ways," Fuller told Louisiana Record. "Ms. Doe has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from this incident. She has been in treatment for over a year for various mental conditions and disorders. She will likely require treatment for the rest of her life."
Doe was initially brought to the prison after an arrest in June 8, 2016. She was driving to the hospital for a self-inflicted arm wound and was driving in the wrong direction on the hospital's premises. She was pulled over for suspicion of driving drunk and refused to take a breathalyzer test, the Advocate reported.
Daniel Edwards, Tangipahoa Parish sheriff, and longtime warden Stuart Murphy are named as defendants in the suit. Both were allegedly responsible for the neglect of Doe.
"We're suing them on the basis of Title VII, a 1983 action, [which is] the failure to protect Ms. Doe as a prisoner," Fuller said. "The second cause of action is failure to train the deputies that are under Sheriff Edwards' and Warden Murphy's control, and the third cause of action is [failure] to supervise those deputies."
Doe is suing for damages from physical pain, suffering and mental and emotional distress.
"These jails are dangerous places for a transgender inmate," Fuller said. "If these deputies and the supervision structure in these prisons had been adequately prepared to deal with transgender inmates, then these incidents can be avoided. Segregating these inmates from the general population and asking the right questions when they're booked is how to prevent these incidents from happening."
Tangipahoa Parish Prison has received other accusations of neglect in recent years. In January, one inmate was beaten to death. In 2014, a lawsuit alleged that while an inmate was being raped in the shower and called for help, a deputy told him to "sit down and shut up," the Advocate reported.