SALEM, Ore. – A new lawsuit alleges sexual abuse by workers at Oregon's only prison for women. It's the latest in a series of lawsuits brought by female inmates at the institution in Wilsonville.
About 1,100 women are behind bars at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. The institution and its employees have been the target of multiple lawsuits over the past few years alleging sexual abuse by correctional officers and others.
State police earlier this year arrested two workers in the prison's physical plant on charges of sexual misconduct. One of those employees is named in the newest lawsuit, which seeks damages of more than $1 million.
Salem attorney Brian Lathen filed the case on behalf of the inmates. He says there’s a pattern of abuse at the Wilsonville facility.
"This is something that's much more than a few bad apples," Lathen says. "It's an epidemic. It's something that needs to be handled by cleaning house."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections says the agency won't comment on a pending lawsuit. But Kristi Brandt says the Department has stepped up its work to prevent sexual abuse of inmates.
On the Web:
Coffee Creek Correctional Facility:
Prison Rape Elimination Act:
Lawsuit against Coffee Creek:
An aerial photo of Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon. Photo by USGS