The United States government has settled a federal lawsuit with 15 women who said that correctional officers at a Florida prison sexually abused them without repercussion.
According to The Tampa Bay Times, the lawsuit contended that Bureau of Prisons officers at the Federal Correctional Complex Coleman in Sumter County, Florida, sexually abused female inmates for years—and threatened those women who did not give in to their demands.
The inmates, says the Tampa Bay Times, were led to believe that they would be transferred to facilities far from their families if they did not comply with the guards’ illegal demands.
One of the plaintiffs, Lauren Reynolds, told the court that a guard approached her after she was sentenced to Coleman.
The guard, claimed Reynolds, said that he would protect her from other inmates in exchange for sex.
Reynolds eventually gave in to the guard’s demands, and was purportedly raped by Officer Daniel Kuilan for more than six months.
Multiple other women told similar stories.
One of the officers named in the lawsuit purportedly admitted to having sexual contact with more than a half-dozen women incarcerated in the complex—even though sexual interaction between prison guards and inmates is strictly prohibited across the United States.
In total, lawsuit states that six of the eight correctional officers named in the lawsuit admitted to having sexual contact with inmates. But—as is typical for United States law enforcement—they did not face any stringent disciplinary measures, and none were prosecuted. However, several resigned, and some continue to receive taxpayer-funded benefits.
James DeMiles, an attorney who represented three of the inmates, said he is hopeful that the government will take a long, hard look at the officers who admitted misconduct.
“I would remain optimistic and hopeful that the powers that be take a hard look at the numerous officers who were named in that indictment,” DeMiles said.
DeMiles told the Times that he believes the settlement amount is fair, noting that the government agreed to pay more than it had initially allocated.
If the case had not been settled, it would have gone to trial within a year.
On Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s General Office approved a round of settlements for the plaintiffs.
Three of the women will receive a total amount of $1.26 million, to be distributed between the trio.
Bryan Busch, an attorney who represented a single plaintiff, told the Tampa Bay Times that he and his client were not willing to comment upon the settlement amount until the funds have been released.