Intentional Masturbation, Sex Harassing Horrors in Female Deputies' Lawsuit

Denver County Jail.
Denver County Jail.

A lawsuit filed against the Denver Sheriff Department by a pair of female deputies makes the Denver County Jail seem like a house of horrors — particularly for women working in law enforcement.

The suit, on view below in its entirety, deals in part with issues related to staffing and equity in job assignments.

But it also outlines outrageous examples of sexual harassment by male prisoners.

Moreover, the suit claims that female deputies are" discouraged from reporting the sexual abuse and harassment by prisoners...because the Department does not take reasonable measures against the abuse even when it is reported."

The plaintiffs in the case are Deputy DaShawn Walker, who currently supervises and guards prisoners at the jail, and Deputy Samone Walker, who handled the same tasks until January 2015, when she was "injured subduing a combative prisoner," the suit maintains.

As a result of the incident, Samone Walker is currently on "modified duty" as she heals — but she expects to return to regular duties at some point.

DaShawn Walker is one of the plaintiffs in the case.
DaShawn Walker is one of the plaintiffs in the case.
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The first portion of the deputies' complaint deals with what's categorized as "work assignments and gender distribution."

Specifically, the suit states that female deputies are generally assigned to watch over female inmates.

As such, the suit alleges, the staffing levels of female deputies are limited. Female inmates make up approximately 22 percent of Denver County Jail's population — and females account for 25 percent of the deputies assigned to the jail.

Nonetheless, the suit continues, female deputies are frequently required to take part in what's termed "cross-gender supervision," including pat-downs of male prisoners.

Conversely, male deputies seldom guard female inmates, the lawsuit adds, and aren't required to pat them down.

As a result of these procedures, the lawsuit argues that "female deputies are exposed to greater danger and hardships" no matter what the gender of the inmate.

When it comes to the female prisoners, the lawsuit places particular focus on Building 21, the primary female pod in the jail.

Inside the jail.
Inside the jail.

Here's an excerpt from the lawsuit, which refers to the jail using the acroynm COJL:

Denver’s primary female pod, Building 21 at the COJL, is overcrowded, inadequately staffed and is unreasonably hazardous to deputies and prisoners alike. Female prisoners with behavioral issues, violence issues and mental health issues are mixed in with the general population. Violent prisoners are mixed with non-violent prisoners. The behaviorally defiant are mixed with the behaviorally compliant. These conditions increase the hardships upon female deputies who must protect both themselves and the prisoners under their charge.

Female prisoners, unlike male prisoners, are not carefully searched before they are sent to the female pod. This causes greater risk for female deputies assigned to Building 21, the female pod at COJL.

In the Denver jails female prisoners file a greater number of grievances against deputies, require more work from deputies, cause more injuries to deputies and require more vigilance from deputies.

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The section headed "Sexual Harassment from Male Prisoners" is even more harrowing.

According to the lawsuit, "female deputies have been, and continue to be, called 'cunts, whores, bitches, sluts' and other sexually derogatory obscenities."

In addition, the suit continues, "prisoners openly and persistently talk about performing sex acts on female deputies and talk about sexually assaulting female deputies. Prisoners make demeaning comments about female deputies' bodies. Prisoners continue to harass female deputies with obscene and derogatory sounds, calls and gestures."

A housing unit at the jail.
A housing unit at the jail.

Sexual harassment is particularly common during pat-downs, the suit argues — and inmates also "intentionally masturbate in front of female deputies and intentionally expose their genitals to female deputies."

As noted above, deputies Walker and Walker say they've been discouraged against reporting such harassment and deem punishment for it to be ineffectual. They suggest policy changes in this paragraph:

Corrective measures that would minimize and mitigate the sexual harassment of female deputies by male prisoners could and should be implemented. These measures include, but are not limited to, staff training, the adoption of a zero tolerance policy, the adoption of a effective policy for reporting prisoner inflicted abuse, the revocation of privileges from offenders, the isolation of offenders, the prompt rebuke of offenders, the referral of offenders for criminal charges and an increase in internal penalties for offenders. Notwithstanding the availability of reasonable corrective measures, the Department has failed to respond with reasonable preventative measures.

These claims serve as a direct challenge to Patrick Firman, who was named Denver Sheriff last month.

See the lawsuit below.



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