A transgender woman who was held in a men’s prison claims in a lawsuit filed in Allegheny County on Monday that inmates subjected her to sexual, physical and verbal assaults during her time there, the Tribune-Review reports.
According to Jules Williams, 37, the jail refused to place her with female inmates and, rather than place her in protective custody, placed her with a male inmate, who she claims raped her repeatedly for four days, even as she cried out for help.
“In my view this is a story of the callous disregard of human safety and dignity,” Williams’ attorney Alec Wright told the Tribune-Review. “She has been broken by this experience and by the acquiescence and practices of this jail. These women are castaways and meaningless to them.”
The suit also claims that staff and inmates often called Williams “s/him” and “freak show” and forced her to shower in front of male inmates and guards.
The Tribune-Review reported that an Allegheny County spokeswoman declined to comment because it does not comment on pending lawsuits.
According to the Tribune-Review, Williams has official state identification, including a birth certificate, that says her gender is female.
The lawsuit claims that the jail’s policy to “intentionally housing transgender women with male inmates regardless of the female detainee’s gender identity, gender expression or sex listed on her birth certificates or other official documents,” violates the US Constitution’s fourteenth amendment.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsyvlania will also represent Williams.
“Ms. Williams has suffered trauma that few of us can imagine,” Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, told the Tribune-Review. “Her situation was completely mismanaged by administrators at the jail, and they must be held accountable. No one deserves to experience what she’s been through.”
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