The teacher was not “in any type of situation that she would not normally face. The risk of harm, including assault, always existed at a prison like Eyman.”
This was the reasoning made by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, which is pushing for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a teacher who was brutally assaulted and raped in an unguarded prison classroom with a convicted sex offender.
The unnamed teacher (the Associated Press does not identify those who report being victims of sexual assault) works for the Arizona Department of Corrections and was scheduled to give a GED exam to seven sex offenders at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Eyman on Jan 20, 2014, reports AZ Central.
Generally, these tests tend to be given in the visitation room because it is highly monitored by cameras and officers to prevent these situations. Because of a special event, the teacher was sent to an unmonitored classroom and was given a radio to use if any problems were to occur.
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The teacher was never radioed or checked on during the 90 minute exam. After they finished, six of the seven inmates left to their dorms unescorted, all but 20-year-old Jacob Harvey.
According to the lawsuit, the 20-year-old inmate grabbed her from behind and took her to the ground as she struggled. He then stabbed her repeatedly in the head with a pen, choked her, slammed her head into the floor, tore away her clothes, and raped her. The teacher told investigators she screamed for help but to no avail. Harvey eventually allowed her to phone for help.
"As a result of the brutal rape and assault, (the woman) suffered physical injuries, great fear for her life and well-being and severe and traumatic emotional distress with which she continues to struggle to this day," wrote attorney Scott Zwillinger.
"Plaintiff is an ADOC (Arizona Department of Corrections) employee who routinely worked at the prison complex," says Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Weisbard. "By being placed in a classroom at the complex, the officers were not placing Plaintiff in any type of situation that she would not normally face. The risk of harm, including assault, always existed at a prison like Eyman."
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"Plaintiff wants to create an artificial impression that the ADOC officers knew she was in danger but she did not know," says Weisbard. "It makes no sense. Of course, if Plaintiff did appreciate the danger of her situation, as an employee, she could have done something about it."
Jonathan Weisbard is essentially arguing that there was nothing unordinary about the situation the teacher was placed in.
Zwillinger told Bolton that Warden Ron Credio, a deputy warden and other prison officials didn't protect the teacher, who was neither armed nor trained to defend herself. "They failed in their duties, and they created the situation that led the harm to my client," he said.
Harvey will remain in prison and is awaiting trial on rape, assault, and other related charges for attacking the teacher. Harvey was sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison less than a year prior to this assault for beating and raping a woman in front of her toddler after invading their home.