An inmate at Illinois’ largest women’s prison is suing three prison officials after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by her transgender cellmate, claiming they tried to cover it up.
The alleged assault happened at the Logan Correctional Center in central Illinois in June 2019, according to the Jane Doe’s federal lawsuit. The plaintiff says she was retaliated against after she reported the abuse.
A separate case involving one of the officials named in the suit claims there are other victims of sexual assault at the facility that are being similarly mistreated.
The alleged assailant in the transgender case is “Janiah Monroe,” who identifies as female but has male genitalia. He and another transgender inmate recently sued the Illinois Department of Corrections, demanding transfers to women’s facilities, according to WTTW.
Monroe, né Andre Patterson, has been in prison since 2008 for multiple convictions on charges that include attempted murder, aggravated battery and attempted aggravated arson, according to Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) records.
He was also charged with murder in 2006, after he strangled his cellmate to death at the Cook County jail. He had been serving time there for aggravated battery with a firearm. Monroe is not eligible for parole until 2051.
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According to the lawsuit, Monroe was moved into the plaintiff’s housing cell on June 18, 2019, and he immediately began to “express an interest” in her.
“Plaintiff was terrified of this inmate as the inmate was much bigger and stronger than Plaintiff,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff had also heard that this inmate had assaulted prior cellmates and had been convicted of murder.”
The woman says in her complaint that she was raped by Monroe and that after she reported the assault, she was coerced by a supervisory officer into retracting her accusation and then punished for filing a “false” complaint under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
According to WTTW:
The suit names Logan’s acting warden Beatrice Calhoun as a defendant, along with officers Brent Keeler and Todd Sexton.
Following the incident, the plaintiff was moved into the prison’s Health Care Unit, where she was interviewed by internal affairs officers, according to the complaint. The following day, she was interviewed by Sexton, who allegedly told her “that he did not believe her and he pressured Plaintiff to say there was no sexual assault.”
The plaintiff said she was “coerced into providing this statement” and filed a grievance with IDOC soon after regarding that interview. She was then relocated about 40 miles away to the Decatur Correctional Center.
Two months later, according to the complaint, she learned IDOC had determined she committed a “major infraction” for allegedly filing a false PREA complaint. That led to months of continued punishment during her continued incarceration, the complaint states.
Alan Mills, who leads the Uptown People’s Law Center, represents Monroe and another transgender inmate. He said that IDOC had deemed the plaintiff’s claims unfounded.
“Our understanding is the Department of Corrections investigated this incident and found that it was consensual sex, not rape,” he said. “So the underlying claim here, I think, is without merit.”
Mills said his client has faced similar accusations of sexual harassment since she was moved to Logan last April, though this was the first he was aware of to include a specific allegation of rape. He said the other cases have similarly been unfounded and claimed Monroe has been targeted due to transphobia.
“A deeper point here is that since Ms. Monroe was transferred to Logan, she’s made a lot of friends and has found substantial support among other prisoners and some staff,” he said. “But transphobia exists everywhere, both out here on the street and in prison, so it’s not surprising that there are some people who feel uncomfortable with her presence in a women’s prison.”
The plaintiff’s attorneys accused the IDOC of covering up the assault in an attempt to justify the controversial transgender policy.
“The transfer of transgender inmates from male to female prisons has been a contentious policy within IDOC,” the attorneys wrote in a five-page complaint. “In an attempt to justify the transfers, Defendants Sexton, Calhoun, Keeler and currently other unknown IDOC employees covered up the sexual assault of Plaintiff and tried to falsely classify it as consensual, to keep it from being considered a PREA violation.”
A Jane Doe in a separate ongoing case also sued Sexton after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a prison counselor and then suffered retaliation when she reported her claims.
The Uptown People’s Law Center, the same Chicago-based legal group that is representing the transgender inmates, is also handling that case.
UPLC is representing “Jane Doe,” a survivor of repeated sexual assaults by correctional counselor Richard Macleod. These assaults occurred while Ms. Doe was imprisoned at Logan Correctional Center. Ms. Doe was required to go through Macleod in order to have phone calls with her nine-year-old daughter, and to receive a work assignment, which are coveted by prisoners. She was threatened with solitary confinement and an extended prison term if she reported his misconduct. Macleod would regularly expose himself to Ms. Doe, make sexual comments to her, and on assaulted her on several occasions.
When Ms. Doe gathered enough courage to report the assaults, she was immediately and involuntarily transferred to Decatur Correctional Center. With this retaliatory transfer, she lost the friends and support system she had at Logan, as well as the ability to complete a cosmetology program, which would give her greater employment opportunities once she was released from prison.
The woman claims that when she was being assaulted, she warned Macleod that “he was courting trouble by having nonconsensual sex with her” but Macleod said his buddy Sexton would protect him.
“I even told him, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but you’re going to lose everything,’” the woman says. “He wasn’t worried about it. … He went so far as to say, if anything was to happen, his friend would warn him first.” That friend, according to the lawsuit, was Sexton, the internal affairs investigator. In her lawsuit, the woman says that Sexton knew about Macleod’s conduct for nearly a year before an investigation began.
“He’s still there – he’s still there, doing this to other people,” the woman said. “Something needs to be done.”