BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed on behalf of an inmate at the East Baton Rouge Parish prison who claims he was raped at the prison last year and subsequently contracted HIV. The lawsuit alleges the inmate's eighth and 14th amendment rights were violated.
The plaintiff, who is currently awaiting trial for a burglary charge, alleges he was raped in his prison cell on February 16, 2017, by his cellmate who was considered a high-risk sexual predator. The plaintiff's cellmate was awaiting trial on charges of rape, battery, and burglary of a woman in 2015.
A week before the alleged rape occurred, the plaintiff was transferred from the prison's juvenile wing to the general adult population.
The lawsuit claims the plaintiff was awoken to being raped by his cellmate and was threatened if he spoke of the incident. The plaintiff alerted prison officials of the incident by giving a deputy a note. Deputies then separated the plaintiff and his cellmate. The plaintiff was then taken to the prison's infirmary.
The plaintiff suffered a fractured bone during the alleged rape and was treated at a local hospital shortly after the incident. He was given anti-HIV medication and instructed the hospital would follow up in sixth months to test if he was infected with HIV. The lawsuit claims the sheriff's office did not follow up on his medical checkup in the six months after the alleged raped. The plaintiff was diagnosed as being HIV positive in December, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff, now 18, was 17 at the time of the alleged incident and 5' 10," weighing 125 lbs. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff is also "mildly mentally handicapped because of Fetal Alcohol syndrome suffered as a child," according to the lawsuit.
Joseph J. Long, the attorney representing the plaintiff, claims his client should have been considered a high-risk sexual victim under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, due to the plaintiff's age, size, and being mentally disadvantaged.
The suit alleges the prison's warden and a corrections officer should have known not to place the plaintiff's cellmate, who had been considered a high-risk sexual predator by the warden's staff, with a high-risk sexual victim like the plaintiff. The lawsuit also claims the warden should have known the high-risk sexual predator had HIV and isolated him from the rest of the prison's population.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages against each defendant, attorney's fees, as well as punitive damages against the plaintiff's cellmate and the corrections officer.
Corrections officer Deputy Daniels, East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Warden Dennis Grimes, and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux are listed as defendants in the lawsuit.