Immigrants allege sexual assault, retaliation at ICE prison

Immigrants allege sexual assault, retaliation at ICE prison

July 15, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

“The complaint, which details abuse that took place from July 2021 to January 2022, includes reports from women who say a male nurse sexually assaulted them while they sought medical care at the facility,” said a release from Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), one of the organizations that sued on behalf of the four women.

“While in detention, two of the incarcerated immigrant women notified Stewart officials of the nurse’s behavior,” which included the nurse placing his penis in the hand of one of the victims. All the women were groped, and at least three were led to believe by the nurse that he was a doctor. But when the women complained about the assaults, they “were repeatedly threatened with retaliation, legal action, prison time and prolonged detention. Officers also withheld food from one woman to discourage participation during internal investigations.”

The nurse continues to work at the CoreCivic-operated private prison, said Project South, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), El Refugio, the Georgia Human Rights Clinic, Owings MacNorlinLLC, and SPLC.

“I’m livid knowing that this man is still working at Stewart after having abused me and so many girls, even when the entire Stewart staff knew what happened,” said Viviana Doe, one of the complainants. “It scares me so much to see Stewart staff cover up to allow the abuse of so many women, and that the employee who sexually harassed me is still there, exposed to hundreds of women.”

“Stewart has long been at the center of multiple investigations surrounding its abusive treatment of immigrants in detention and is currently under investigation by the DHS Office of Inspector General,” organizations said. “It has the highest reported number of deaths due to COVID-19 of any ICE facility, as well as the highest reported numbers of COVID-19 cases among ICE detention centers.” Stewart, like Irwin, should have been shut down to immigrants. But instead officials moved women there knowing full well abuses were also occurring under that roof. This is not an accident: Retaliation by officials against immigrants who have spoken out about abuses is well documented.

“It is abominable for the administration to have transferred migrant women to the Stewart Detention Center and to continue to keep them there, knowing full well about the history of well-documented egregious abuse at this ICE prison,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director at Project South. “It is high time for Stewart to be shut down and for all detained migrants to be released.”

”The human rights groups and the complainants are calling for a thorough investigation of the allegations, the immediate closure of Stewart, the release of people currently in detention, reparation and a path to immigration relief in the United States,” groups said. But Georgia’s Stewart isn’t the only abusive facility that should be shuttered. In numerous states across the nation, immigration facilities continue to remain open despite detaining fewer people due to pandemic-related court orders. Shut them down.

“I can’t sleep just thinking about so many women being abused by this male nurse, and I don’t understand how they allow that man to keep working at Stewart Detention Center, after all the staff know he is a sexual offender,” Stewart complainant Maria Doe said. “Why do they continue to cover up his actions? For what purpose? How many more women must be victims of this corrupt center? All I want is for justice to be done and for this man to never abuse more women.”

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