Lawsuit against Chowchilla Women's Prison claims guards physically abused several of their inmates

CHOWCHILLA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Four former and current Central Valley inmates claim they were physically abused and sexually humiliated by employees of the Chowchilla Women's Prison. They believe it was because of their gender identities.

"When I went and heard the graphic and quite sexualized nature of this particulate incident, I was horrified," said Attorney EmilyRose Johns.

The complaint filed in November of last year claims a gender nonconforming former prisoner, a transgender man, and two other women were abused by guards at the Central California Women's Facility. They were also denied medical care related to the injuries.

One incident in 2015, alleges that an inmate was placed face down and an officer stepped on her exposed breast. Another inmate threatened to report a guard after he made a derogatory comment. She claims he then slammed her to the ground and dragged his boot across her back.

"We've never seen anything like this in a women's facility, and certainly the fact it was targeted who was standing up , in that incident, standing up for her rights," said Johns.

The complaint also says that guards forced a transgender inmate to walk around the prison with his pants around his ankles in 2017.

A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections says they have not been notified of the lawsuit, and cannot comment at this time.

Legal Analyst Tony Capozzi says the suit calls for an injunction to stop the abuse and to pay for what they have done.

"The eighth amendment in the U.S. Construction prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. If this is true, that's what's happening in this prison system," said Capozzi.

The complaint claims none of the guards were disciplined. Meanwhile, while the victims all suffered mental and emotional drawbacks from the alleged abuse.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.