Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Inmates' lawsuit won't be tried in Hawai'i

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Courts Writer

A civil lawsuit by several Hawai'i women who claim they were sexually assaulted by prison staff at a privately operated prison in Oklahoma should be tried in a federal court there, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra granted a motion for a change of venue sought by lawyers representing Dominion Inc. The company operates the Central Oklahoma Correction Facility in McLoud, Okla., which houses about 60 women inmates from Hawai'i.

Hawai'i prison officials began shipping inmates to serve their sentences in other states more than five years ago because of a shortage of prison cells here.

Four inmates filed the suit in August. One of the women claimed she was "tortured" by officials after she complained that a prison lieutenant was sexually preying on women inmates.

Dominion officials have denied the allegations.

Honolulu attorneys Michael Green and David Gierlach, who represent the inmates, told Ezra the trial should be held in Honolulu to ensure that it is fair.

But Ezra said virtually all those accused are in Oklahoma or elsewhere on the Mainland. In granting the change of venue, he said he had no doubt a trial held in an Oklahoma federal court would be fair.