A Pennsylvania woman was blamed for rape – her own rape – by the state attorney general, who in commenting on the assaulted woman’s lawsuit, said that the victim “contributed” to her own rape. Throttled and left unconscious by an inmate, the female Pa. prison employee was said to share partial responsibility for her own vicious attack.
Writes CNN: “The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office is blaming a former state prison clerk for her own rape, in response to a federal lawsuit the woman filed. The 24-year-old typist was working at the state prison at Rockview in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, when she was attacked in 2013. She was choked unconscious and raped for 27 minutes by inmate Omar Best, who had been convicted three times previously of sex-related crimes, and then been transferred from a different state prison for assaulting a female assistant there.”
CCTV security feeds showed Best, who was already in prison for prior rape sentences, walking out of a room alone after he had attacked and sexually abused the female office worker, who is not being named.
A suit was filed by the woman seeking unspecified monetary damages; the state is defending the claim by assigning blame to the plaintiff, the victim, as well as the defendants for maintaining an environment that contributed to the incident.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed a 13-page document citing “contributory negligence” on the victim’s part. According to Kane’s findings, the victim, hired in June of 2013 in the prison’s administrative offices, told prison officials that she was “uncomfortable” with the fact that inmates – including Best – were in the hallways emptying garbage.
CNN picks up the story:
The victim had complained twice to her boss — about a week before the attack — that she felt uncomfortable and unsafe with Best coming into her office. She was assured Best would no longer have access to her office, the lawsuit states. But on July 25, around 8:30 a.m., Best went to her office under the guise of taking out her trash, and grabbed the woman from behind, choking her until she passed out. She tried to blow a distress whistle she carried, but no one heard it. Her lawsuit also claims the prison was understaffed.
A prison investigation led to the firing of the superintendent, Marirosa Lamas, the hiring of 70 new corrections officers, and the moving of those offices where she had worked to a more secure space, away from inmates.
According to court documents filed, Kane wrote: “Some or all of the damages plaintiff have alleged are in part, or substantially due, to the acts of third parties other than the answering defendants, and/or plaintiff acted in a manner which in whole or in part contributed to the events which led to the damages plaintiff has alleged in her complaint.”
Kane did not specify why she feels the victim was partly to blame.
The victim’s lawyer, Clifford Rieders, blasted the ruling. “It’s total bunk,” Rieders said. “It’s throwing something out there so they can have it on the record. They have no evidence of that. It has no substance, but it’s just the way some lawyers litigate.”
Rieders added that it’s “insulting to women generally who face rape cases only to be told that it’s their fault… this is victim shaming at its worst. Worse than that, it’s an attempt to embarrass the victim.”