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Prison guards back in court for civil trial of alleged rape setup

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  • The Associated Press
    September 23, 2003 

    FRESNO -- One of California?s most dangerous prisons returns to the spotlight today when three guards and a former medical assistant appear in court in a civil rights lawsuit accusing them of setting up and then covering up the rape of an inmate by another inmate known as the "Booty Bandit." 

    Eddie Webb Dillard claims the California State Prison, Corcoran, guards set up his rapes by convicted murderer Wayne Robertson over two days in March 1993 to punish him for kicking a female guard at another prison. 

    Robert Decker, Dale Brakebill, Anthony Sylva and Joe Sanchez were acquitted in 1999 of criminal charges in the same case of aiding and abetting sodomy in concert. Each had faced up to nine years in prison. 

    Dillard filed the federal civil rights lawsuit in 1994 against Decker, Sylva, Sanchez and Kathy Horton-Plant, a prison medical assistant at that time who has since retired from the California Department of Corrections. 

    Decker, Sylva and Sanchez remain employed by the CDC. 

    "One thing that will become clear in this trial is that CDC guards were purposely using Robertson to dole out gratuitous, extra-judicial, extra-administrative punishment," said Robert L. Bastian Jr., Dillard?s attorney. 

    Bastian said witnesses to be called during the trial in federal court in Fresno include Robertson, who admitted at the criminal trial to raping and torturing Dillard over several days after guards left him in his cell in 1993. Robertson testified that the guards intentionally put Dillard in his cell. 

    "They knew what would happen to him if they put him in there," Robertson said at trial. 

    Former Corcoran prison guard Roscoe "Bonecrusher" Pondexter will also be called to testify. Pondexter, who testified for the prosecution under a grant of immunity at the criminal trial, has said his fellow officers knew they were endangering the 23-year-old Dillard when they left him in a cell with Robertson, a hulking 6-foot-3, 230-pound convicted murderer serving a life sentence. 

    At the time, Dillard weighed a mere 118 pounds and was a known enemy of Robertson after a run-in with the man guards called "a refrigerator with legs" at a prison in Tehachapi. 

    According to affidavits by CDC?s own investigators, Robertson was listed in prison records as an enemy of Dillard. It is against CDC policy to house inmates with documented enemies, prison officials acknowledge. 

    Bastian said CDC records document at least 25 reported instances of Robertson assaulting or raping cell mates from April 23, 1983, until November 30, 1997, earning him the nickname "Booty Bandit." 

    In a sworn statement filed in Kings County Superior Court in 2001, where the criminal case was heard, Barbara Sheldon, a CDC staff attorney, "concluded that Decker, Sanchez, Sylva and Horton had acted outside the scope of their employment, acted with actual malice." 

    Sheldon also noted that the investigation found the guards "may have been involved in encouraging, promoting or covering up the Dillard rape." 

    As a result, the CDC withdrew its defense of the guards. 

    But later, after being notified by the prison guards union that state law required CDC to provide a defense, the CDC agreed to do so. Gov. Gray Davis approved the deal last year. 

    Under state law, the CDC is now responsible for any compensatory damages awarded to Dillard. 

    CDC spokesman Russ Heimerich said the agency stands behind its investigators? conclusions. 

    "But we are obligated by law to defend them (the guards) given that they were found innocent in the criminal investigation," Heimerich said. "I don?t think the (CDC) ever felt the agency was at fault, but the guards themselves." 

    Bastian said the CDC?s responsibility should be to settle the case. And he said Gov. Davis should never have approved the CDC?s deal to defend the guards, but instead should have ordered the agency to settle the case. 

    The governor?s office referred questions to Stephen Green, assistant secretary of the California Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, which overseas the CDC. 

    Asked about the CDC?s own investigators? conclusions that the guards were at fault, Green simply noted their acquittal on criminal charges. 

    "Those were the investigators? opinions and the court didn?t buy them," Green said. "The court did not find the investigators? conclusions were credible. Given that, the officers are innocent, so we will defend them." 

    Green said the agency would be willing to settle the case. Bastian said an offer has never been made. 

    "We are open to settling this case ? but the attorney has not come to the table with anything reasonable," Green said, adding that the agency does not admit guilt. 

    Posted on Wed, Sep. 24, 2003  
    Trial begins for guards in California prison rape incident

    Associated Press

    Lawyers delivered opening statements Wednesday in a trial in which an inmate claims prison guards punished him by setting up his rape by a convicted murderer who was so notorious for abuse that he was known as the "Booty Bandit."

    Eddie Webb Dillard claims three guards violated his civil rights by setting up the rapes over two days in March 1993 to punish him for kicking a guard at another prison. Dillard alleges the guards - Robert Decker, Joe Sanchez and Anthony Sylva - and now-retired prison medical assistant Kathy Horton-Plant then orchestrated a cover-up by refusing to take him to a hospital and by not filing internal medical reports.

    "As a result, Mr. Dillard never received medical care," Marina Dini, Dillard's attorney, said in the courtroom Wednesday. "There is nothing in the file to document even an allegation ... The evidence will show this was merely swept under the rug."

    Jan Kahn, the attorney representing Sanchez, said Sanchez shouldn't be held responsible because he wasn't on duty the day Dillard was transferred into Robertson's cell. Kahn said Dillard never told Sanchez he was in any danger sharing a cell with Robertson and depicted the two inmates as being on friendly terms.

    "They even braided one another's hair," Kahn said Wednesday.

    Scheduled witnesses at the federal trial include Wayne Robertson, who has acknowledged raping and torturing Eddie Webb Dillard and said the guards intentionally put Dillard in his cell.

    "They knew what would happen to him," Robertson said at a 1999 criminal trial in which the guards at California State Prison, Corcoran were acquitted.

    The inmate's attorney declined to say how much Dillard is seeking, but a state official said Dillard was seeking millions of dollars in damages.

    The California Department of Corrections, which would be responsible for any compensatory damages awarded to Dillard, contends it is the guards and not the agency that were at fault, department spokesman Russ Heimerich said.

    Department of Corrections attorney Barbara Sheldon concluded in a 2001 affidavit that the defendants "had acted ... with actual malice." Investigators also said in affidavits that Robertson was listed in prison records as an enemy of Dillard. It is against department policy to house inmates with documented enemies.

    Witnesses include former guard Roscoe "Bonecrusher" Pondexter, who testified at the criminal trial under a grant of immunity. He has said his fellow officers knew they were endangering Dillard when they left him in a cell with 6-3, 230-pound Robertson, who is serving a life sentence for murder and weighed nearly twice as much as Dillard did at the time.

    Dillard's attorney, Robert L. Bastian, Jr., said department records document at least 25 instances in which Robertson assaulted or raped cellmates between April 1983 and November 1997, earning him the "Booty Bandit" nickname.

    Dillard, who had been in prison for assault with a deadly weapon, was released in 1996 and sent back to prison in 2003 for another assault with a deadly weapon charge.

    The Department of Corrections withdrew its defense of the guards but later agreed to pay for their attorneys in the civil case after the prison guards union argued that refusing to do so violated state law.

    Witness changes testimony
    Convicted killer denies rape of Corcoran inmate. 
    By Jerry Bier
    The Fresno Bee
    (Published Saturday, September 27, 2003, 5:29 AM)

    Convicted murderer Wayne Robertson, the so-called "Booty Bandit" who said he raped inmate Eddie Webb Dillard because Corcoran State Prison guards wanted to teach Dillard a lesson, stunned a federal courtroom Thursday by testifying he and Dillard made the whole thing up. 

    Robertson, after hours of testimony and denial that he even knew or remembered Dillard, said he never raped him and that the two of them had come up with a scheme to say Dillard had been sexually assaulted. 

    Four years ago, in a criminal prosecution of correctional officers, Robertson testified that he beat and repeatedly sodomized Dillard when the two men were placed together in a cell at Corcoran's security housing unit, or SHU, for three days in March 1993. 

    It was not true, Robertson said from the witness stand Thursday in Dillard's federal civil lawsuit against the guards. 

    "Mr. Dillard asked me to help him and I said 'yes,' but at no time did I think he would take it to this extreme," the shackled, 6-foot-3, 220-pound Robertson said. Three black-vested state guards stood within feet of him. 

    Dillard filed a federal civil rights complaint against guards Robert Allan Decker, Joe Sanchez and Anthony Sylva, accusing them of putting him into Robertson's cell for three days to punish him because he had kicked a female guard at another state prison. 

    He also named former medical assistant Kathy Horton-Plant, contending she orchestrated a cover-up by refusing to have him taken to a hospital after the alleged attacks by Robertson. 

    Under questioning by Dillard's lawyer, Robert L. Bastian, Robertson was evasive and couldn't remember any details, frequently saying he did not recall Dillard and asking to see him or a photo to try to recall him. 

    Dillard had asked not to be present when Robertson was on the witness stand and was not in the courtroom for any of his testimony. 

    "Name sounds familiar," said Robertson. 

    Robertson, referred to in prison slang as the "Booty Bandit" for his sexual assaults on inmates, was asked if he was angry about having to testify. 

    "Oh, yeah," he answered. 

    Most of Robertson's testimony Thursday was in stark contrast to that of the man who testified four years ago that he had sodomized Dillard over two days after Decker had told him that Dillard, who weighed 118 pounds, "needs to learn to do his time." 

    The guards were acquitted of any wrongdoing in the criminal trial after being prosecuted by the state Attorney General's Office on charges of setting up Dillard's rape. 

    Robertson, bald except for a thin braided ponytail, wore a bright white prison jumpsuit and carried an envelope that he said contained his prison files. 

    He spent much of the time denying information about his violent prison past, contained in California Department of Corrections files, while being questioned by Bastian. 

    Robertson, serving a life term without parole for a point-blank killing during a robbery 24 years ago, said he didn't recall ever saying he raped Dillard. 

    When Bastian read statements from his testimony in the criminal trial and asked if that refreshed his recollection, Robertson responded, "No." 

    Then, while being questioned by attorney Mark H. Harris, who represents Sylva and Horton-Plant, Robertson was asked about a letter he reportedly wrote to Dillard Oct. 26, 1999, about a week after his criminal trial testimony. 

    The letter said in part: "You must take responsibility of your own actions. You're about to get 'paid,' but if the truth really comes out I don't think you would get one red cent." 

    While Robertson evaded most of the questions asked by Bastian, he readily answered questions about "Little E," identified as Dillard, when questioned by attorneys representing the correctional officers. 

    He was under no pressure to talk about the alleged scheme with Dillard, Robertson said, and he was not working for the California Department of Corrections. 

    "I don't give a [expletive] about these officers," he testified, asking everyone to pardon his language. 

    He said that at the time he and Dillard, whose case was one of those highlighted in the national media spotlight when Corcoran gained a reputation as the nation's most violent prison, were both angry at Decker, who was one of the sergeants in the SHU. 

    He said he told Dillard, "You help me and I'll help you." 

    But Dillard went to the extreme, Robertson said, going on the news show "60 Minutes" while he remained "locked up" in the SHU, described as a prison within a prison, "because of these unproven allegations." 

    Robertson has a history of violence and prison rapes dating to 1983, according to prison records. 

    Bastian said after jurors had left that Robertson's testimony was "absurd . . . he has never disclosed this scheme whatsoever." 

    The reporter can be reached at jbier@fresnobee.com or 441-6484.

     ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ex-Corcoran inmate testifies to attack in cell 
    By Jerry Bier
    The Fresno Bee
    Published 10/01/03 12:29:00

    A former Corcoran State Prison inmate who fought off an attack by sexual predator Wayne Robertson testified Tuesday that he protested being placed in the cell with Robertson, but never told correctional officers the reason why. 
    "That's snitching. ... it's not my position to say, especially to a correctional officer," said inmate Lawrence Johnson, who is serving a "Three Strikes" sentence of 31 years to life for attempted rape. 

    Johnson said inmates were well aware of Robertson's reputation as a prison rapist and predator and that is the reason he protested to Sgt. Robert Allan Decker before being placed into a cell with him at Corcoran in 1993. 

    Decker, along with guards Joe Sanchez and Anthony Sylva, are accused of deliberately placing inmate Eddie Webb Dillard into a cell with Robertson to punish him because he had kicked a female guard at another state prison. 

    Dillard's civil trial against the guards and former medical assistant Kathy Horton-Plant resumed Tuesday with the testimony of Johnson and another inmate, Oliver Coleman, serving seven years to life for kidnapping and robbery. 

    Johnson, answering questions from Dillard's lawyer, Marina R. Dini, said he protested to Decker that he and Robertson weren't compatible when he was ordered moved into Robertson's cell in the secured housing unit. 

    "I knew his history, his M.O.," Johnson said. 

    Decker did not heed his protests, Johnson said, and he went to Robertson's cell and was told by the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Robertson that "if I come in there, I come in at my own risk." 

    Lawyers for the officers objected to the testimony about Robertson's warning, and U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii ordered the jury to disregard the statement. 

    The judge also prevented testimony from Coleman that he didn't tell guards about Robertson's reputation because that would label him a "snitch," and in a prison, a snitch could wind up injured or dead. 

    Robertson did attack him, but he was able to fight him off and suffered a "busted lip and black eye." He never told officers about the fight, he said, and was transferred out of Robertson's cell a couple of days later. 

    Robertson, who admitted he raped Dillard when he testified at the guards' criminal trial four years ago, last week testified in the civil trial that the alleged rape was a scheme that he and Dillard made up. The guards were acquitted in the criminal trial. 

    Coleman testified that he saw Dillard run from Robertson's cell after the alleged rape. 

    "All I know is the man came out of the cell hollering he was raped," Coleman said. 

    He said he later was placed into a cell with Robertson and asked him "what happened to the little youngster?" Dillard was 5-foot-7, 118 pounds. 

    Robertson responded something to the effect that "one thing led to another," Coleman testified. 

    Asked by lawyer Katherine L. Hart, representing Decker, whether he had any problems with Robertson, Coleman replied, "not at all." 

    In testimony later Tuesday, Decker said that when he answered questions in the civil case in 1995 and stated he knew Dillard had been sexually assaulted by Robertson in March 1993, he actually was thinking of an alleged assault of another inmate that took place three months later. 

    Decker underwent intense questioning by another Dillard lawyer, Robert L. Bastian, about cell transfers he had ordered in the secured housing unit and whether he should have known that Dillard had placed Robertson on his "enemies list," meaning he did not want to be in a cell with him. 

    The reporter can be reached at jbier@fresnobee.com or 441-6484.


    Posted by: JaimeeLynn

    Been keeping a watch on this one through Prisoners of Davis...just DISTURBING. The whole thing just gets me sick.



    By Mark Arax and 
    Mark Gladstone 

    FRESNO-Five state correctional officers (prison guards) have been indicted by a special Kings County Grand Jury on conspiracy and other charges stemming from a 1993 rape at Corcoran State Prison by an inmate nicknamed the "Booty Bandit." The five officers, including a lieutenant, were booked at the Kings County Jail Thursday (Oct. 8, 1998) afternoon on a variety of criminal charges, including conspiracy to carry out a sodomy and preparing false reports. The indictments came after a three-month investigation by the state attorney general's office into allegations of planned rapes and cover-ups at the prison between Bakersfield and Fresno. 

    The Kings County Sheriff's Department identified the five men as Lt. Jeffrey A. Jones, 36; Sgt. Robert Allan Decker, 40; Sgt. Dale S. Brakebill, 33; and Officers Anthony J. Sylva, 35, and Joe Sanchez, 37. The March 1993 rape of inmate Eddie Dillard, a 23-year-old Los Angeles gang member imprisoned for assault with a deadly weapon, had been investigated last year by a state Corrections Department team and the Kings County district attorney's office. Convicted murderer Wayne Robertson had told state investigators that he raped Dillard at the behest of prison staff, in part because Dillard had kicked a female guard at another prison. But because the initial investigation couldn't break what authorities have described as Corcoran's code of silence - no officers would come forward with information about the alleged crime - the matter was dropped. The attorney general's office, which had been told about the case last year by Kings County authorities, decided not to investigate.

    Then this July, a story in The LA Times focused on one former guard who gave the newspaper a first-hand account of the rape. Roscoe Pondexter described how fellow officers had transferred Dillard into Robertson's cell, knowing that the 6-foot3, 230-pound prison enforcer would probably rape the small, slender Dillard. In August, after striking an immunity deal with Pondexter, the attorney general's office convened a special grand jury in Kings County and subpoenaed Pondexter, Dillard, Robertson and several officers. There was concern at the attorney general's office that the regular Kings County Grand Jury, known for its conservative, pro-law enforcement bent, would not return an indictment against Corcoran officers, many of whom live in the community. Indeed, last year, that grand jury refused to indict officers in another Corcoran case in which a busload of black inmates were allegedly beaten during a transfer to Corcoran.

    "We decided not to file the [Dillard] case because… we didn't have any officers willing to cooperate with us," said Assistant Dist. Atty. Larry Crouch. "Since then, a correctional officer has come forward and spoken to [The LA Times] and testified before the grand jury, and that has altered the case. We didn't have Pondexter at the time. We didn't have that one thing that we needed." According to the accounts of Pondexter and Dillard and the statements Robertson made to state investigators, it was Sgt. Decker who gave the order that Dillard should be moved into Robertson's cell on the day of the rape. 


    Robertson wasn't shy about being called the Booty Bandit. He told corrections investigators that any time Corcoran supervisors needed an inmate to be "checked," they could call on him. Depending on his mood, he said, he would either rape or beat them. A dozen such assaults and rapes were documented in his prison file. He said he got extra food and tennis shoes in return. Dillard told The Times that he had been at Corcoran about a week when he was told: "Roll up your crap, you're moving." Officer Sylva and another guard escorted him from one section of the security housing unit to another, he said. Along the way, they informed him that his new cellmate would be Robertson. "I told them, 'You can't put me in there. This guy's my enemy. He's a sexual predator.'" Dillard said Sylva responded, "It's happening. Since you like hitting women, we've got somebody for you."

    A few years earlier, at another prison, Dillard had spurned Robertson's sexual advances, and this led to a fight, Dillard said. He so feared Robertson that he listed him as an enemy in his personal file. Under prison policy, this alone should have precluded any move into Robertson's cell. Pondexter said in an interview that he didn't know at the time of the cell move that Dillard had kicked a female officer. "I didn't know what wrong Dillard had done, but my superiors obviously wanted him punished," he said. "Everyone knew about Robertson. He had raped inmates before, and he's raped inmates since."

    Dillard said that on the way to Robertson's cell, he lodged more protests but that none of the officers would listen. As soon as the door clanged shut, he said, Robertson began to lecture him. Dillard was there because Decker thought he needed to be "taught a lesson on how to do your time," Robertson told him, according to internal prison reports. "You know better than to be kicking a female officer," Robertson reportedly said. The lights went out and Robertson grabbed at the 120-pound Dillard, who said that he tried to fight back but that Robertson was too powerful. Dillard said he pounded on the cell door to let guards know he was in trouble, but that no one came as he was repeatedly raped.

    Dillard later gave his account of the attack to an officer who hand-carried a report of the rape to then-Sgt. Jones, according to internal reports. Jones reportedly told the officer, "What do you want me to do with this? Nobody wants to do anything about it." In a July interview, Dillard said: "They took something from me that I can never replace. I've tried so many nights to forget about it, but the feeling just doesn't go away. Every time I'm with my wife, it comes back what he did to me. I want a close to the story. I want some salvation. But it keeps going on and on."

    On Thursday, Decker was arrested on four criminal counts, including conspiracy to rape and preparing false evidence. Sylva and Brakebill were charged with two counts, including conspiracy. Sanchez was charged with three counts, including conspiracy, and Jones was charged with being an accessory after the fact. Dillard declined to comment Thursday. Pondexter said the indictments were "welcome but difficult news." "After examining my heart, I felt it was the right thing to do - to come forward and talk about what happened to Dillard that day, to let the public know," he said. "It's never easy to break the code of silence. It took me five years. There are no winners on either side. A lot of good officers are going to be strained by this." 

    State Department of Corrections chief Cal Terhune, who assumed his job in mid-1997, said October 8th, that the allegations were troubling. "If it did happen, it's the worst fear that anyone could have going into a prison. We have a moral and legal responsibility to respond to it," Terhune said. James Maddock, special agent in charge of the Sacramento office of the FBI, applauded the indictments. FBI agents have conducted a four-year investigation into the 1994 shooting death of inmate Preston Tate at Corcoran. That probe has resulted in the federal indictments of eight Corcoran officers for allegedly setting up inmate fights for blood sport. A trial is pending. (The ancient Romans and their bloody "games" have nothing on the Corrections Department! WFI Editor) "The state's investigation is a recognition of the fact that there were serious civil rights abuses occurring at Corcoran," Maddock said. 

    After being booked, the suspects were released on their own recognizance pending arraignment. The grand jury, which questioned 40 witnesses, will continue its investigation, trying to determine if the conspiracy went deeper. Robertson, who is already serving a life term, wasn't indicted. In addition to the charges involving the rape of Dillard, the grand jury also indicted Sgt. Decker on a charge of conspiring with Robertson to rape inmate Melvin Davis in June 1993. "During our investigation of [the Dillard case] we discovered evidence of an additional and similar situation," said Rob Stutzman, spokesman for the attorney general's office in Sacramento. 

    SOURCE: Excerpted from the 9 October, 1998, issue of the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Edition, from an article entitled, "5 Charged in Corcoran Prison Rape." Reprinted in the public service of the national interest of the American people. 
    (WFI EDITOR: Even that notorious totalitarian, the late LA County Sheriff Sherman Block, declared that criminals were incarcerated AS PUNISHMENT, not for punishment. This was in relation to a similar scandal, when it was discovered that a group of LA County Deputy Sheriffs had formed an illegal vigilante group called, "the posse," which regularly beat up inmates that members of the group felt were uncooperative. It never dawns on the police that there is still popular resistance to the police state, and even though most of the inmates are illiterate, and many actually do need to be incarcerated for public safety, the causal factors that result in incarceration rates for minorities that exceeds the majority white population's rate of incarceration, all suggest that there is a class-based engine driving law enforcement under George Washington's republic.)


    -Judge refuses to drop woman from prison trial 
    By Jerry Bier
    The Fresno Bee
    Published 10/11/03 05:35:25

    A federal judge said Friday that if he were on the jury in Eddie Webb Dillard's trial over allegations of rape in Corcoran State Prison, he would find in favor of one of the defendants. 

    However, U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii wouldn't drop Kathy Horton-Plant as a defendant in the case after a lawyer argued that there was a lack of evidence against her. 

    Horton-Plant was a medical technical assistant who visually examined Dillard on March 8, 1993, after he fled the cell of Wayne Robertson, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound sexual predator known in prison as the "Booty Bandit." 

    She and three Corcoran corrections officers are on trial in federal court in Fresno over allegations by Dillard that he was deliberately placed into the cell of Robertson as punishment for assaulting a female guard at another prison. 

    Horton-Plant, who now lives in Texas, testified during the trial that after she examined Dillard, she received an order from a prison doctor to have him taken to a hospital for a rape examination. 

    The transportation order was mysteriously canceled, according to testimony, and Dillard was moved to another cell without any further medical treatment. 

    Another witness, former corrections officer Michael Coziahr, also testified that Horton-Plant, who is accused of participating in a cover-up, was sympathetic to Dillard's alleged attack and angrily admonished other officers who laughed at an off-color joke about the alleged rape. 

    Mark H. Harris, a lawyer representing Horton-Plant, asked Ishii to drop her from the case before it is turned over to the four-woman, four-man civil jury. 

    While it appears "some balls were dropped" in the Dillard case, Harris said, "I don't believe my client dropped any balls or was deliberately indifferent to Eddie Webb Dillard." 

    However, Robert L. Bastian, one of Dillard's lawyers, urged the judge to deny the motion to dismiss Horton-Plant as a defendant and let the jury decide. 

    If it is true she was "heroically trying to get medical care" for Dillard, Bastian said, she should have known and written in reports who is responsible for blocking that care. 

    Ishii said the evidence against Horton-Plant is circumstantial and if he were on the jury, he would find in her favor, but the jury has to reach its own conclusion. 

    The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages from Horton-Plant, Sgt. Robert Allan Decker and officers Joe Sanchez and Anthony Sylva, whose defense is being paid for by the state. 

    In testimony Friday, Elizabeth J. Harris, a clinical psychologist from Encino, said she treated Dillard in 2001 for post-traumatic stress disorder relating to the alleged multiple rapes by Robertson. 

    Harris, no relation to lawyer Harris, said Dillard exhibited all of the classic symptoms of the disorder, caused when one witnesses or is subjected to an event that causes fear of death or great injury. 

    "He came basically wanting relief from the symptoms he was experiencing," Harris said, noting Dillard's problems included nightmares, pervasive fear, irritability and psychological distress. 

    After nine sessions, Dillard appeared much better and did not return, Harris said. 

    Dillard, 33, was first convicted of three felonies in 1990 and served six years of a 10-year sentence. He went back into prison this year after committing other felonies and is serving a term of nine to 11 years. 

    The trial concluded its third week Friday and will resume Wednesday. 

    The reporter can be reached at jbier@fresnobee.com or 441-6484. 

    © 2002 , The Fresno Bee

    Posted on Fri, Oct. 17, 2003  
    Closing arguments in "booty bandit" prison rape case

    Associated Press

    A lawyer for a state prison inmate who claims guards set him up to be raped by another inmate known as the "Booty Bandit" asked jurors Friday to award the plaintiff the same amount of money they would give to a free man.

    "He is entitled to the benefit of federal law and justice," said Robert L. Bastian, Jr., in his closing argument after four weeks of testimony.

    Eddie Webb Dillard claims the guards at California State Prison, Corcoran set up his rapes by convicted murderer Wayne Robertson over two days in March 1993 to punish him for kicking a female guard at another prison. Dillard is serving time for assault with a deadly weapon.

    Robert Decker, Dale Brakebill, Anthony Sylva and Joe Sanchez were acquitted in 1999 of criminal charges in the same case. Each had faced up to nine years in prison.

    Dillard filed the federal civil rights lawsuit in 1994 against Decker, Sylva, Sanchez and Kathy Horton-Plant, a prison medical assistant at that time who has since retired from the California Department of Corrections.

    Decker, Sylva and Sanchez remain employed by the CDC.

    The guards' attorneys have claimed their clients did not act with intent to harm Dillard, and, in fact, were not responsible for Dillard's move into Robertson's cell.

    Dillard's attorneys claim the guards ignored the fact that prison records indicated he was a known enemy of Robertson's. It is against prison policy to house inmate enemies together.

    Dillard's attorneys claim Horton-Plant orchestrated a cover-up of the rapes by not filing the proper medical reports and not following through with an order to have Dillard transferred to a hospital for a full rape examination.

    Former guards testified that the defendants knew Robertson was a sexual predator and would harm Dillard.

    Bastian said CDC records document at least 25 reported instances of Robertson assaulting or raping cellmates from April 23, 1983, until November 30, 1997, earning him the nickname "Booty Bandit."

    Robertson himself testified at the earlier criminal trial that he raped Dillard and that the guards "knew what would happen to him if they put him in" his cell.

    But during the civil case, Robertson changed his story, claiming he never raped Dillard and that the two concocted the tale in hopes of winning money at a trial.

    Bastian said Friday that Robertson changed his story because the attorney refused to offer him an incentive for testifying.

    "Robertson sent me a letter, asking 'What's in it for me?'" Bastian told jurors.

    Bastian has not said how much money his client should get, but CDC officials said Dillard wanted millions. The CDC would be responsible for any compensatory damages awarded to Dillard.

    Prison officials refused to settle the civil case even though their own investigators found the guards liable in the criminal case.

    Jan Kahn, the attorney representing Sanchez, said Sanchez shouldn't be held responsible because he wasn't on duty the day Dillard was transferred into Robertson's cell. Kahn said Dillard never told Sanchez he was in any danger sharing a cell with Robertson and depicted the two inmates as being on friendly terms.

    Mark Harris, the attorney representing Horton-Plant and Silva, attempted to depict Dillard as a career criminal whose credibility can't be trusted.

    "This case is all about evidence and credibility," Harris told jurors.

    Harris said Horton-Plant examined Dillard after the alleged rape and contacted her supervisors, who ordered Dillard transferred to a hospital for further exams.

    The fact that Dillard was never transferred was not Horton-Plant's fault, Harris said. He blamed the oversight on other prison employees.

    "This is not a cover-up," he said. "The ball was dropped that night, but who dropped it? It certainly wasn't Kathy Horton-Plant, Anthony Silva, Robert Decker or Joe Sanchez."

    Harris said the decision to transfer Dillard into Robertson's cell came from higher authorities in the prison system, not from any of the defendants.

    Closing arguments were expected to last throughout the day Friday. The jury would either get the case Friday evening or Tuesday, when court is back in session.

     -------------------------------------Jury Finds Rape Not Prison Workers' Fault

    Wednesday October 22, 2003 3:46 AM


    Associated Press Writer

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Four employees of a California state prison were not responsible for the rape of an inmate by a fellow prisoner, a jury found Tuesday. 

    Eddie W. Dillard claimed during the federal civil rights trial that the employees at the prison in Corcoran arranged and then covered up his rapes by a convicted murderer notorious for sexual assaults on inmates. 

    Dillard contended the rapes, over two days in March 1993, were arranged to punish him for kicking a female guard at another prison. Dillard is serving time for assault with a deadly weapon. 

    Dillard filed suit in 1994 against Robert Decker, Anthony Sylva, Joe Sanchez and Kathy Horton-Plant. Decker, Sylva and Sanchez remain employed by the California Department of Corrections. Horton-Plant has since retired. 

    Sanchez said he was ready to get back to work: ``I'm just glad it's over and I can get on with my career.'' 

    Dillard's attorney, Robert L. Bastian, Jr., said he was considering seeking a new trial. 

    The defendants' attorneys told jurors their clients had no knowledge of Wayne Robertson's sexually violent behavior and were not responsible for Dillard's transfer into Robertson's cell. 

    Bastian called their claims ``denial, upon denial, upon denial,'' and pointed to a culture of apathy and neglect in the state prison system. 

    Juror Grace Alcaraz said she wanted to decide for Dillard but the evidence did not prove intent by the guards. 

    ``My heart goes out to Dillard,'' Alcaraz said. ``The system failed Dillard and they (the guards) are the system.'' 

    Decker, Sylva and Sanchez were acquitted in 1999 of criminal charges in the same case. 

    Lawyers file for new trial in prison rape case

    Wednesday November 05, 2003
    Associated Press Writer
    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) Attorneys for an inmate who claimed in a civil suit that four prison employees arranged his rape by another inmate have filed a motion for a new trial after the employees' acquittal last month.

    Eddie Webb Dillard claimed the guards and a medical technician at California State Prison, Corcoran set up and then covered up his rapes by convicted murderer Wayne Robertson, a man so notorious for his sexual assaults on fellow inmates that he's known as the ``Booty Bandit.''

    In October, jurors found that guards Robert Decker, Anthony Sylva, Joe Sanchez and medical technician Kathy Horton-Plant were not responsible for the attacks. Decker, Sylva and Sanchez were acquitted in 1999 of criminal charges in the same case.

    The attacks are alleged to have occurred over two days in March 1993. Dillard is serving time for assault with a deadly weapon.

    Dillard's attorney, Robert L. Bastian, Jr., said Wednesday that U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Ishii would hear arguments for a new trial Dec. 1 in Fresno.

    Bastian said the jury should not have heard details of Dillard's criminal conviction during the four-week long civil rights trial.

    ``The nature of his conviction had little bearing on the facts in this case,'' Bastian said. ``This was a miscarriage of justice.''

    The motion for a new trial filed last week does not include Horton-Plant as a defendant. Bastian said ``the judge made it clear'' the evidence did not support Horton-Plant's inclusion in the case.

    Attorney Mark Harris, who represents Silva and Horton-Plant, said the motion for a new trial has no merit.

    ``I'm confident the jury's verdict was carefully deliberated and was without error,'' Harris said.

    Decker's attorney, Katherine Hart, said she would expect nothing less than a motion for a new trial from Dillard's attorneys.

    ``These two attorneys for the plaintiff are excellent, ambitious, hard-working attorneys ... They passionately believe in their case and they are trying to do the best job for their client,'' Hart said. ``But I am confident the jury reached the right result.''

    Sanchez's attorney, Jan Kahn, did not immediately return telephone calls.

    Past Dillard Trial Articles 1998 - 2002----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date: May 17, 2002 

    Summary: Recently, a small Los Angeles-based advocacy group, Stop Prisoner Rape, squared off against advertising giant Young & Rubican, and its client, 7 Up, the large soft drink company, owned by Britain's Cadbury Schweepes.  At issue is the propriety of a television commercial making light of prison rape.  Stop Prisoner Rape is right, 7 Up is wrong, as explained in this op-ed piece by Robert Bastian, an attorney who represents prison rape victim Eddie Webb Dillard in his lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections. 

      Anyone doubting prison rape is widely tolerated is invited to review evidence in the Human Rights Watch Report, No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons, released last year.  For example, Eddie Dillard, whose civil rights lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court, Fresno, is the victim of a recidivist inmate rapist whom California Department of Corrections authorities continued to assign new cellmates, notwithstanding over 25 documented instances of rape or sexual assault on cellmates at six separate California prisons. 

           Stop Prisoner Rape is a small Los Angeles-based advocacy group devoted to addressing this problem.  Recently, Stop Prisoner Rape squared off against advertising giant Young & Rubican, Inc., and its client, 7 Up.  At issue is a television advertising campaign directed primarily at 12-24 year olds. In one ad, comedian Godfrey, poses as a company spokesman handing out 7 Up in a prison.  After dropping a can, he states, "I'm not picking that up." Later, he sits uncomfortably in a cell as a bearded inmate wraps a tattooed arm around him. "When you bring the 7 Up everyone is your friend," the spokesman says. As the cell door slams, he adds, "Okay, that's enough being friends." 

        7 Up's spokesman says the company's sole aim was to create a humorous commercial, not offend anyone.  According to 7 Up, test screenings showed the average person enjoyed the ad, but did not take the rape references seriously.  He concludes, "We understand this is a serious issue" but "we believe the appropriate people to address it are [those] in the criminal justice and corrections systems."  Thus, 7 Up has no plans to, as they say, kill the spot. 

        7 Up is wrong. 

           Elizabeth Noelle-Neuman, a noted social scientist who, in 1947, founded the prestigious German polling organization, the Allensbach Institute, has spent a lifetime studying and explaining how public opinion is formed. In her seminal work, The Spiral of Silence (1984), she elegantly demonstrates how opinions people openly share are powerfully conditioned by innate desires to socially fit in; how, at the deepest levels, opinions people publicly share are shaped by fear of social isolation.  Consequently, people generally express opinions that fall within a range they perceive to be socially acceptable. 

           Implicit in her work is a search for, and explanation how, in a modern, highly educated democracy, officially tolerated human rights abuse and widespread depravity can, nonetheless, occur. Her work suggests there is social danger when outrage, even one cloaked in humor, is met with approval or -- what is sometimes worse -- an aura of approval in the form of silence. 

        Yet, when the consequences of silence in the face of outrage are, through experience and education, widely understood, outrageous ideas are met with appropriate disapproval.  For an extreme example: if, instead, the commercial made light of the actor not following the soda can into a boxcar occupied by terrified internees, the effort would be commonly adjudged not only insensitive, but malevolent.  Likewise, a commercial making light of an intimidating man implicitly threatening to sexually assault a woman should she bend over to retrieve a soda is entirely intolerable.  Regrettably, though, there have been times and places where, if audience screening was the sole determinative factor, such ill-conceived advertising concepts might have passed muster. 

           What's left, now, is a climate in which, while it is unacceptable to trivialize rape, it is acceptable to trivialize rape behind bars.  Not surprisingly, it has also become, in practice, penologically acceptable.  When Dillard escaped from a Corcoran prison cell where he was violated for three days by a sociopath twice his size, correctional officers joked that he got his doughnut glazed.  Now, guards operating at this level of moral awareness might offer the victim 7 Up. 

           While 7 Up would deny being morally implicated in a climate that enables prison rape, it nonetheless spends advertising dollars on the assumption that sharing with 12-24 year olds a chuckle -- that hapless fellows, such as the diminutive Godfrey, are likely to be raped if isolated in prison -- sells sodas. If 7 Up is correct that such shared drollery has measurable influence over young peoples' beverage preferences, it stands to reason it has at least that much influence over their attitudes towards prison rape.  Stop Prisoner Rape rightly fears 7 Up is laying groundwork for another generation of silence in the face of outrage. 

           In 1910, Winston Churchill asserted, "treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country." In a 2001, 7 Up introduced its ad campaign, featuring, in the company's words, "comedian Godfrey as the brand's new clueless marketing executive . . .[i]n keeping with the campaign's overall theme . . . coming up with exciting and innovative concepts for marketing 7 Up, which ultimately go awry." 

        Stop Prisoner Rape's point, exactly 

    By:  Robert L. Bastian, Jr. 
    Attorney at the Law Offices of Bastian & Dini (Los Angeles) 
    which represents Eddie Webb Dillard 


    Joanne Mariner, "No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons," 
           Human Rights Watch 2001. 

    Elizabeth Noelle-Neuman, "The Spiral of Silence", 
           University of Chicago Press (1984). 

    Frank Arens, Cracking the Code of Advertising, 
           Washington Post, 3-3-02. 

    Barry Shlachter, Inmate advocates chide 7 UP, 
           Star-Telegram, 4-30-02. 

    Tamar Lewin, Little Sympathy or Remedy for Inmates who are Raped 
           New York Times, 4-15-01. 

    The Dillard case is also discussed in multiple LA Times articles by Mark Arax. (Indeed, his fine work has resulted in Eddie Dillard having a fighting chance in his civil lawsuit.) 

    The factual assertions in the second sentence are supported by a Declaration and accompanying exhibits filed in Dillard v. Decker, et al. U.S.D.C. Case No. CV F-94 5048 AWI SMS.  A copy of the declaration is attached as an Appendix to the Human Rights Watch Report referenced above.  A similar declaration is on file in the related case of Decker, et al. v. C.D.C., King County Superior Ct. No. 00C2852 

    7 Up Press releases (found at 222.dpsu.com): 

    1-4-02, 7 UP `Exposes' Itself to Consumers Through Integrated 
                  Advertising and Point-of-Sale marketing Campaign. 

    10-31-01, 7 UP Introduces New Spokesman as Part of 
                 its 2002 `Make 7 UP Yours' Advertising Campaign. 

    Robert L. Bastian, Jr., can be reached at: 

    o: 310-789-1955 
    f: 310-822-1989 
    e: robbastian@aol.com 
    a: Law Offices of Bastian & Dini 
    1925 Century Park East, Suite 500 
    Los Angeles, CA 90067-2700 

    1 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Rape, How Funny Is It?

    Los Angeles Times - November 3, 2002
    Fred Dickey

    Quick Now: What Has 2 Million Victims, Turns Passive Men Violent, Spreads HIV and Could Be Stopped Overnight? If You Said 'Prison Rape,' You're in on the Joke. 

    Bill Handel is a drive-time radio host on L.A.'s KFI-AM (640). He stays popular because he has a feel for what makes his audience chuckle as they head for that unfunny 9 a.m. encounter with the boss. His repertoire includes prison rape jokes, the tired but reliable picking-up-soap-in-the-shower ones, especially when the hapless subject is a celebrated or heinous convict. "When people hear about a victim" of prison rape, Handel explains, the response is: "So he should have stayed out of jail!" 

    Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, the chief law enforcement official of California, told the Wall Street Journal last year that Enron CEO Kenneth Lay deserved to be jailed with a cellmate who would say to him, "Hi. My name is Spike, honey." 

    Everyone, it seems, is in on prison rape jokes. Don't worry about crossing a line because when the subject is inmates raping other inmates, people don't empathize. They laugh. 

    So have you heard this one? The FBI says that 89,107 women reported rapes in the U.S. in 1999. Prison experts say that at least twice that number of men are raped each year in prison. "Prison rape is the most tolerated act of terrorism in the U.S.," says James E. Robertson, a professor of corrections at Minnesota State University, Mankato, who has studied the problem for 15 years. 

    Precise numbers of these rapes are not available. Neither the federal government nor the state of California keep statistics on the crime. But this much is known: Just as heterosexual rapes across the U.S. are often not reported, sexual abuse in prison is "massively underreported," says Terry Kupers of Oakland, a psychiatrist who has written and edited books on prison conditions. Kupers believes that more than one-third of all incoming inmates in American jails and prisons are either sexually assaulted or are in imminent danger of attack. 

    Cindy Struckman-Johnson, a psychology professor at the University of South Dakota, says that studies she has conducted suggest that at least 22% of the some 2 million male prisoners nationwide have been either pressured or forced to submit to sex at least once. Stop Prisoner Rape, an organization co-founded by Stephen Donaldson, a Vietnam veteran who was raped repeatedly after being jailed for protesting the Vietnam War, argues that one prisoner in five has been sexually abused and that one in 10 has been raped. 

    Yet most Americans accept prison rape as a harsh reality, and their jokes imply that the victims are getting their just reward. "The only people who care are the relatives, and they are usually poor and uneducated," explains Cal Skinner Jr., a conservative Republican who fought for state prison reform during eight terms in the Illinois Legislature. Skinner eventually paid a high price for his activism when he lost a reelection bid to an opponent who mocked his efforts to end prison rape. But he and others continue to work against the abuses. Their findings won't set up many punch lines. 

    The victims often haven't been convicted of crimes, Kupers says. Many prison rapes happen in poorly supervised local jails to short-time prisoners who are found innocent or sometimes not even charged with a crime. 

    Most of those who have been convicted are serving time for nonviolent offenses. But to survive behind bars, they are forced to adapt to the culture of brutality, says Vincent Schiraldi, president of the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Many have trouble leaving it behind once set free. "Prisons have a far better chance of turning a nonviolent inmate into an armed robber than into a law-abiding citizen," Schiraldi says. 

    Worse still is Skinner's ominous warning that research conducted by his legislative staff found an alarming amount of HIV among prisoners. "Prison systems in many states are a major breeding grounds for the AIDS virus, and that can give rape victims an unadjudicated death sentence. How can society live with that?" 

    Seven years ago, Lawrence Bittenbender was held temporarily in the Santa Clara County jail in San Jose awaiting extradition to the state of Washington to serve time for child molestation, a conviction to which he protests his innocence and blames his ex-wife for a false accusation. He was placed in a dormitory that housed 28 men. At 2 a.m., he was jumped by five inmates who, he believes, had been told by guards of the nature of the charge against him. He says he was awakened by a blanket thrown over his head and the bodies of several men piling on top. He was forced to endure at least a half-hour of rape. 

    "I had no idea it was coming," he says. "All of a sudden, I couldn't breathe. Someone grabbed at my clothes. Someone thumped my head." The raping "was excruciating, pain that seemed to go on forever. There was blood everywhere." He says he required surgery to repair the damage to his sphincter muscle. 

    Bittenbender, now 46, is serving time in McNeil Island Corrections Center in Washington. He is bitter and angry, a powerful man ready to use his strength and rage without hesitation. He never stops being watchful and pumps iron preparing for the day of the next attack. "I know how to take care of myself now. If someone tries it again, no matter how long his sentence is, he'll be free in the morning. I'll take a lot of damage, and I'll kill him." To prove his resolve, he goes to great lengths to explain an ingenious way that a "shiv" (homemade knife) can be made out of everyday materials. 

    The state of California knows that violent sexual assaults are common, but refuses to take meaningful steps to prevent them, says a high-ranking official with the Department of Corrections who asked that his name be withheld. Prison rape "is not treated as a problem," he says. "We don't do anywhere near all we could to prevent it." 

    California corrections officials say they have no idea how many rapes occur in their prisons, although Brian Parry, a corrections assistant director who recently retired, says, "In terms of numbers, I don't see it as a big problem. It doesn't get reported very frequently." 

    Others in the department disagree. They see rape as a cancer that corrections does not fight aggressively because acknowledging its extent would make the department look bad and make the state more vulnerable to lawsuits, the high-ranking official says. It would also remove a tool that many prison guards use to control prisoners, Robertson says. "There's an implicit quid pro quo between some officers and gangs, as well as the more aggressive inmates: You keep the lid on and we'll leave you alone." 

    Paul Wright, 37, is editor of Prison Legal News, a monthly newspaper, while serving time at Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington for the botched robbery-murder of a drug dealer in 1987. He has never been attacked in prison because, he says, "I was older, bigger and could defend myself." But he became aware of the problem while confined. "We'd be watching television, and you know how you get to a silent part of a movie? We'd hear prisoners screaming for help: 'Guard, guard, help! I'm being raped!' and guards wouldn't respond." 

    The issue briefly flared into prominence in California in 1998, when four guards at Corcoran State Prison near Fresno stood trial on the criminal charge that they had used rape as a disciplinary tool by allowing a sinister inmate called the "Booty Bandit" to rape an L.A. gang member named Eddie Dillard repeatedly. The four were acquitted. Even so, says the corrections official, some guards allow rapes to go on. "Absolutely. It's a mentality and ego thing [among guards] who think, 'I'm God and I have the power.' " 

    William Rigg, a retired lieutenant in the California Department of Corrections, says the prison system simply regards rapes with indifference. "They just don't care, from the C.O.s [correctional officers] all the way up to the director of corrections. The governor, to him the CDC is a pain in the butt. The less he hears about it, the happier he is." 

    The powerful union that represents prison guards, the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., does not see inmate sexual assault as a problem. Lance Corcoran, executive vice president and a former guard, says offenses may be "underreported," but he believes that most occasions of sexual contact are consensual. He says it is "nonsense" to claim that some guards conspire to use sexual assault as a tool of manipulation. 

    Roscoe Pondexter of Fresno, who served as a guard for eight years in Soledad and Corcoran prisons before resigning in 1996, says he personally reported to superiors five inmate complaints of sexual assault. "They weren't taken seriously," he says. "There was no great effort to substantiate them." 

    Pondexter says that, typically, victims tend to be troublemakers, child molesters and rapists, the very people whom guards do not find sympathetic. He says guards feel that such victims "got what they deserved. They did it to someone on the streets, so now someone is doing it to them." 

    People on the outside blink in bewilderment at the idea of one man raping another. The confusion begins with any notion that these are typical homosexual activities. Technically, that may be true, but the term is not valid in the eyes of the most important definers--the prisoners. As in heterosexual rapes, primary motivations are an intermingling of power, domination and anger. It is accepted dogma in prison that rapists are not homosexuals, says Chuck Terry, 50, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at St. Louis University who served time in California and Oregon prisons for heroin use. The distinction allows predators to masquerade their activities as super-masculine. 

    Convicted rapists and child molesters are always targets of prison rapists, but also at grave risk are inmates who are young and naive, short-termers, or those who are effeminate in appearance or manner and not aggressive in defending themselves. Their attackers are generally gang members in for long-term violent offenses. 

    A former sex criminal, who asked not to be identified, describes how it "goes down," as though relating a trip to the grocery store. Since his release from California's Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, he has become a drug dealer in Southern California and, his acquaintances say, is almost certainly a murderer. 

    "The biggest man, strongest man [in prison] was a friend of mine, Bo, from Washington, D.C.," the former inmate says. "He raped about 20 men. He had a fetish. On the outside, he raped women for a hobby. That's why he ended up there. But when he got into the penitentiary, a man was a desired thing for him. I helped him set up men and I would partake also. He was a good friend, but if he didn't like you, he'd rape you before he killed you. 

    "I used to sic Bo on a lot of men. White, black, Mexican. For all kinds of reasons. Maybe someone [would] be sitting here and not get up fast enough. We rolled with the Black Guerrilla Family, part of the nationwide penitentiary circuit." As for homosexuals or men with light skin, "they'd be raped all the time. Once you turned 'em, they gonna be women from then on. Aryan Nation did their own people, too. If we had one who didn't have any backbone, we might trade him to them for a favor and they'd do the same." 

    Jim Hogshire, 44, is a writer who has looked at bars from the wrong direction. He is the author of "You're Going to Prison," a primer on the criminal justice system. "Prison is a deadly place occupied by weird guys who are usually not very bright, who are very aggressive and often sociopathic," Hogshire says. "These are guys who in the free world, if they can't get an online computer hook-up, they go berserk. Cutting in front of them in the chow line is something huge. It's like being transplanted back to the Middle Ages. Once you understand that, you can accept that rape is an extremely common occurrence, and anyone not morbidly obese or covered with sores faces the likelihood of having to submit to sexual assault." 

    He says the most vulnerable will be beaten and raped as often as necessary until they seek help from an "old man," a predator who will give protection but will also make sexual demands. "Once you've become someone's punk, you stay a punk and your old man will use you any way he wants. He might send you out to perform sexual acts for a marijuana joint, candy or anything else of value. You have become 'currency.' " 

    Male victims of prison rape very likely will react to the trauma of rape with similar emotions as female victims: shock, anger, guilt and humiliation, says Lara Stemple, executive director of Stop Prisoner Rape, which is based in Los Angeles. These feelings are intensified if they are raped repeatedly, which sometimes occurs for years. They also feel deep shame at being unable to defend themselves, and that failure destroys their sense of manhood, she says. 

    There is a perception that prison rapists are black and victims white, but many who have observed it say this is an oversimplification. However, most California prison confrontations--whether over gambling, drugs, sex or debts--do end up being played out along racial lines. Race is the prison fault line. Often, whites fit the prey profile more than blacks or Latinos because they commonly lack street smarts, and a higher proportion are in for nonviolent drug or white-collar crimes. "Race is a factor to the extent that whatever race is predominant, they tend to victimize the minority," Wright says. "It comes down to the pool of prey versus the pool of predators, and whites aren't organized to protect each other and can be more easily picked off one by one." 

    The international organization Human Rights Watch is less sanguine on the subject. Its four-year study, called "No Escape" and released last year, concluded that "white inmates are disproportionately targeted for abuse." The report noncommittally cites two common theories for this: greater violence in the black criminal subculture and payback for past racial abuses. 

    Women prisoners are also not immune from sexual attack, but it almost always comes from male guards. The numbers are far fewer, but it is an egregious offense that has received greater public attention. Some who study male rape are critical of what they see as the lack of support from women's rape groups in focusing attention on the problem. "It's just not on the radar screen for anti-rape activists," Wright says. "Rape of men is about where rape of women was 50 years ago in terms of how the public sees it. So victims 'deal with it' and cover it up." 

    "Put it this way," Vincent Schiraldi says: "You're a women's group waging war on rapists--rapists are men! It's tough to retool, psychologically and organizationally, and expand your outreach. But this might change as the problem becomes better known." 

    Prison authorities often fall back on the theory that most prison sex is consensual--even though there are not enough homosexual men in prison to support the number of incidents. Additionally, since the range of coercion extends from brutal force to providing "protection" in exchange for exclusive sex, it is difficult to sort things out. Presumably because of that, and because of the fear of AIDS, California prisons officially prohibit all sexual contact between prisoners. 

    Prisoners nearing the end of their sentences are especially at risk because they fear having their term extended by fighting back. They just want to be left alone to serve their time, but they rarely are. Still, they keep their secrets to themselves. Jim Hogshire explains it by putting himself in the mind of a victim: "OK, I've gotta do this [endure rape], but I'm not telling anyone on the outside. And when I get out, I'll put it behind me. 

    "To them, the humiliation and hell of being punked-out is not as bad as getting a lifetime sentence for killing someone or even being killed," Hogshire continues. "It's an awful choice, but it's the only choice some guys get. And the choice is final. Many just kill themselves. Those who live and are released reenter society every bit as [screwed up] as you might expect." 

    The public also has another reason to fear the mental state of prison rape victims who have served their sentences. Many of them are carrying sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Prison officials are aware that the combination of sexual assault and the rapid rise of these diseases creates a lethal mix in prisons, but many choose to ignore the problem, says Robert Dumond, a former mental health director with the Massachusetts penal system. As a case in point, he says that virtually no data has been collected nationally showing the extent of infection arising from sexual assault, though "everyone knows it happens commonly." 

    Citing budget woes, the California Department of Corrections does not, as a rule, give blood tests to new inmates. The department, therefore, has no idea how many inmates have undetected HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, although an earlier state study indicated that about one-third of all new convicts have either hepatitis B or C. The corrections department says it does know that 20,434 inmates have hepatitis B or C; 742 have HIV and another 582 have full-blown AIDS, up from 157 in 1999. All of these sick inmates are housed in the general population. "We don't isolate because there is little risk of infection except through blood or bodily fluids," a spokesman says. 

    Told of this practice, Dumond responds with a long, mirthless laugh. "That's unbelievable," he says. "No, that's frightening." Dumond now serves as a consultant to Stop Prisoner Rape, the organization co-founded by Stephen Donaldson. Years after being raped while jailed for his war protest, Donaldson was imprisoned again, this time for threatening medical personnel who refused to treat a hand he had injured. Donaldson was raped again--and caught the AIDS virus, which killed him after his release. 

    Is there anything that prisons can do day-to-day to diminish this predation? Hogshire believes so. He says, with some hyperbole, "They could stop this stuff tomorrow morning. If they sent perpetrators to Pelican Bay [an ultra-maximum-security prison] where they could spend their days in isolation, and if they also transferred their victims to other institutions without the snitch rap in their files [so it could not be learned later that they were informers], they would be scaring the hell out of would-be rapists and, at the same time, telling their victims that speaking up wouldn't mean a shiv in the back." 

    William Rigg believes that the number of incidents can be greatly reduced by prompt administrative action when a rapist is identified. "Single cell and walk alone," he says, meaning that contact with other inmates is minimized or eliminated. 

    Craig Haney is a psychology professor at UC Santa Cruz who has studied prison life. He says that one tool prison officials could use is conjugal visits, which are now barred in California prisons for inmates serving life sentences. He believes that such privileges would release pent-up sexual pressures and allow officials give-and-take-away leverage with inmates. 

    State and federal laws also would help, although finding legislators to champion the cause is nearly hopeless. "Prisoner-rights issues are dogs when it comes to legislation," Schiraldi says. "Helping inmates is nuclear waste, politically." 

    Just ask Cal Skinner, the former Illinois legislator who pushed for prison reforms. His opponent in the 2000 primary election accused him of being more interested in convicts than in constituents, and he was defeated. Skinner says his greatest frustration, however, was his inability to push through effective laws aimed at stopping prison rape in Illinois. That result is mirrored in other states where legislation also generally fails, he says. "There's no lobbyist crusading against prison rape. For a lawmaker, it's a mission without political reward." 

    Sacramento is silent on the issue. An official with the California Senate's Public Safety Committee, who asked not to be identified, says that he can't recall any bills introduced on the subject. 

    Congress is considering action against rape in the form of "The Prison Rape Reduction Act," which has strong bipartisan support. Whether President Bush signs it into law or not is still an open question. The bill, which applies to both state and federal prisons, requires the Justice Department to create a clearinghouse for statistics on prison rape nationwide, ties federal funding for prisons to levels of rape occurrences, provides a hotline for victims and creates a training program for corrections officials. It's not exactly a Magna Carta on the subject, but, as Schiraldi says, "It's a start." 

    When prison rapes occur, responsibility for prosecuting perpetrators falls on local district attorneys. The problem is, Schiraldi says, that D.A.s are often loath to file charges because those prosecutions could be seen as coming to the defense of criminals. And in most jurisdictions, spending local tax money to protect criminals, even if they're victims, becomes a politically risky act. 

    Consequently, the main hope for convicts who believe they have been wronged has always been the courts. However, because inmates often have to serve as their own attorneys, the barriers are high, James Robertson says. For an inmate to prove a violation of the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment, for example, he must show that the prison staff practiced deliberate indifference, which is exceedingly difficult. Historically, inmates file lawsuits in federal courts because they distrust state courts. However, the federal Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 makes it much more difficult to prevail in federal court, often leaving inmates feeling as if they have no place to go for legal protection. 

    Forcing prisoners to seek shelter from "cruel and unusual punishment" at the hands of other prisoners is itself an indictment of the American justice system, Vincent Schiraldi says. Or, as the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky said more pointedly in "The House of the Dead," a novel based upon the four years he served for sedition in Russia's abysmal 19th century prisons: The degree to which a society is civilized can be judged by entering its prisons. 

    Copyright © 2002 - Los Angeles Times. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission. Reproduction of this article (other than one copy for personal reference) must be cleared through the Los Angeles Times, Permissions, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053.  http://www.latimes.com.


    AI Index: AMR 51/79/00

    24 May 2000


    Californian Prisons: Failure to protect prisoners from abuse 
    Amnesty International's continuing concerns

    January 1997: Guards at Calipatria State Prison allegedly incited a white supremacist inmate gang to beat up two openly gay prisoners -- Eugene McCann and Jeffery McKilligan -- according to a lawsuit filed in April 2000.

    April 2000: The trial opened in the case of eight guards indicted on federal charges of having incited violence by staging ''gladiator style'' fights among prisoners in Corcoran Prison's High Security Unit between 1988 and 1994 -- incidents during which guards shot dozens of unarmed prisoners, seven fatally. 

    These cases are two of a whole series of incidents in Californian prisons during the past decade, in which guards have been accused of failing to protect prisoners or deliberately setting them up for attack. Amnesty International is concerned that the prison authorities failed to enforce policies, procedures and laws which could have prevented these brutal acts. Although there have been some recent changes in policy, the organization remains concerned that the authorities may not be doing enough to prevent similar abuses from taking place.

    The cases of concern include the following:

    • In January 1997 guards at Calipatria State Prison allegedly incited a white supremacist inmate gang to beat up two openly gay prisoners -- Eugene McCann and Jeffery McKilligan -- which came to light in a lawsuit filed in April 2000. The lawsuit alleges that prison officials subsequently conspired to cover up the guards' role in the attack. 

    Prison guards are accused of having intentionally opened McCann and Mckilligan's cell so that a group of prisoners belonging to a white supremist gang could attack them. On 24 January Mckilligan was stabbed; two days later both McCann and Mckilligan were attacked and severely beaten by the gang. The victims maintained that the guards knew in advance that the attack would happen and were motivated by a hatred of gays. 

    Amnesty International believes that these attacks are part of an institutional pattern of abuse in the Californian prison system that deny prisoners' rights to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Such treatment is contrary to international standards regarding the treatment of prisoners, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, both of which have been ratified by the US Government.

    In August 1999, Amnesty International wrote to the Californian Department of Corrections about guards' failure to protect a gay prisoner who in July 1999 was strangled to death by another inmate known to be dangerous, after he was left alone with him for over an hour in the exercise yard of the Corcoran Security Housing Unit (SHU).

    Anthony G. Delgado strangled fellow inmate Kevin Mahoney after being placed alone with him in an exercise yard inside the SHU. It is believed that Kevin Mahoney's homosexuality left him particularly vulnerable as a target for inmate assault. The guard in question was reported never to have manned the exercise yard before and, instead of supervising the whole yard, to have concentrated on supervising another group of inmates in an adjacent yard.

    Amnesty International urged the Department of Corrections to ensure that the inquiry into the death of Kevin Mahoney include a thorough review of policy and practice related to a series of incidents, and that the findings of the inquiry, and of other related investigations, be made public. 

    • In April 2000 the trial opened in the case of eight guards indicted on federal civil rights charges for having incited violence by staging ''gladiator style'' fights among prisoners in Corcoran Prison's High Security Unit between 1988 and 1994. The prison guards allegedly conspired to brutalize prisoners by setting up fights between rival gang members for ''blood sport'', and then shooting when fistfights broke out. Two prison guards who eventually became ''whistle blowers'' exposed a system that allowed use of deadly force to quell inmate fights and resulted in 31 inmate shootings between 1989 and 1995, seven of them fatal. However, the guards who reported the abuse were subsequently threatened, ostracised and forced to resign. 

    Four of the guards on trial face possible life sentences for civil rights abuses including the fatal shooting of inmate, Preston Tate, during one of the 1994 brawls, moments after a guard allegedly said: ''It's going to be duck hunting season''. The four other officers could receive a 10-year sentence over another 1994 fight. The guards were indicted in 1998 after years of internal investigations and legislative hearings produced no charges. State legislative hearings in 1998 criticized the Department of Corrections for failing to investigate or prevent abuses in prisons and for inadequate discipline and oversight.

    Another disturbing case is the rape of prisoner Eddie Dillard by another inmate in Corcoran Prison in March 1993. Evidence was later uncovered suggesting that guards had deliberately set him up to be attacked by leaving him in the cell of a known sexual predator over a two-day period to punish him for kicking a female guard at another prison. However, a state criminal investigation into the allegations was abandoned in 1997 when prison guards refused to testify against their colleagues. Amnesty International wrote to the authorities to express concern at the dropping of the inquiry based on the ''code of silence'' among officers, especially as there appeared to be other evidence to support the victim's allegations. 

    The case was later reopened and four guards were eventually charged. However, both denied the allegations and they were acquitted by a jury at their trial in November 1999. The guards had been represented by their union and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association who also waged a media campaign to support them throughout the trial. This case again illustrates the difficulties involved in bringing guards to justice for abuses in the California prison system.

    The Californian Department of Corrections has been forced to change some of its procedures in recent years following mounting concern about the scale of abuses and cover-ups in the prison system. It has introduced several changes to its shooting policy and guards are now prohibited from shooting prisoners to break up fights. This has led to a drop in shootings since 1995 (prior to this more prisoners in California were shot by guards than the rest of the country put together). Other measures introduced include tightening use-of-force regulations -- four different bills were passed to improve training, clarify when use of lethal force is necessary and help guards use better judgement.

    In a positive move in late 1998 the California Department of Corrections established both a centralized Office of Internal Affairs and an Office of Inspector General to investigate serious complaints of abuses in prisons across the state, rather than, as previously, leaving all internal investigations to the individual prisons. The Inspector General has a much broader role as well as more independence than the Office of Internal Affairs as he reports directly to the governor and has the power to make independent investigations and recommendations. However, it is unclear what proportion of cases are investigated by either body or even how effective this step has been. Amnesty International remains concerned that not enough is being done to protect prisoners from guards who incite attacks on prisoners by other inmates.

    On 23 February 2000 it was reported that a riot broke out among 260 prisoners of known rival factions in the B yard at Pelican Bay State Prison. Guards shot 13 inmates, killing one, while apparently trying to stop this riot. Federal authorities charged two ex-Pelican Bay guards with arranging violent attacks on inmates; these indictments came only nine days after the conviction of another former Pelican Bay guard in a 1994 shooting. Amnesty International believes these shootings raise serious questions about the failure of the authorities in insuring a safe environment for prison and staff, about the use of lethal force on prisoners and the practice of placing prisoners from rival factions in the same yard together.

    Amnesty International is once again asking the Californian authorities what measures have been put in place to ensure the protection of inmates from abuse, to ensure that correctional officers are under a duty to report abuse of prisoners by fellow officers and urging that any prison officer found to have been involved in abuse is removed from the prison system. 

    The human rights organization is also reiterating its call to the authorities to develop, implement and rigorously enforce standards for correctional facilities that are consistent with international human rights standards for the treatment of prisoners, and which forbid torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The authorities should consider the adequacy of training and supervision given to wardens and guards in the Security Housing Units, including inmate classification and the manning of exercise yards. 

    Amnesty International is urging the authorities to take all measures to ensure that violence perpetrated by staff or inmates does not take place in correctional facilities, that alleged incidents be independently investigated and that those responsible be brought to justice. 



    Rape as a disciplinary tactic

    Prison guards often ignore inmate rape, and even encourage it to punish prisoners who step out of line.

    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    By Christian Parenti

    Eddie Dillard, a 23-year-old gang member from Los Angeles serving time for assault with a deadly weapon in California's Corcoran State Prison, was a prison malcontent. One day Dillard made the mistake of kicking a female guard; for this sin and others he was promoted to the top of the correctional officers' shit list.

    Dillard was transferred to the cell of Wayne Robertson, better known as the "Booty Bandit." For a time, his vocation was beating, torturing and sodomizing fellow inmates while prison guards looked the other way. This psychopathic serial rapist was the guards' resident enforcer, one whose specialty was reining in abrasive young toughs.

    Dillard protested the transfer, pointing out that Robertson was a known predator. "Since you like hitting women, we've got somebody for you," came the reply. There, in a tiny box with the Booty Bandit, began the tragic re-education of Eddie Dillard.

    Lessons commenced with verbal abuse and threats, soon progressing to a violent and bloody assault in which Robertson beat the smaller, younger Dillard into submission. For the next several days Robertson beat, raped, tortured and humiliated Dillard, tearing open his rectum in the process. Guards and other inmates listened to the echoes of the young man screaming, crying for help and begging for mercy.

    When the cell door finally opened to let him out, Dillard rushed onto the tier and refused to go back inside. But it was too late: He had been "turned out." He was reduced to a psychologically broken, politically servile "punk" -- in the prison argot, the lowest form of life. Dillard was now jailhouse chattel, to be sodomized, traded and sold like a slave. Robertson, on the other hand, received new tennis shoes and extra food for his services.

    When he was released from prison, Dillard told the Los Angeles Times of the trauma he still suffers: "They took something from me that I can never replace. I've tried so many nights to forget about it, but the feeling just doesn't go away. Every time I'm with my wife, it comes back what he did to me. I want a close to the story. I want some salvation. But it keeps going on and on."

    Dillard's case is not an isolated incident. Though using rape as a management tactic may sound like an extreme concept, the Dillard case appears not to have been an isolated incident. The Boston Globe, for example, reported that guards in Massachusetts prisons have used known rapists in the same fashion as their California counterparts: "Several prisoners at Shirley [State Prison] said that Slade [a notorious prison rapist] has had a long history of attacks there, but that he is typically reshuffled by the guards into cells with 'fresh fish,' or new inmates." 

    In the age of AIDS, such prison discipline often amounts to a slow-motion death sentence. As one Massachusetts prison rape survivor put it, "Nowhere in the book of rules was it written that I got to be here to get raped, that I have to have them destroy my mind, that I am supposed to get AIDS." This same inmate, who is HIV-positive, said he went to the guards for protection, but their response was: "Welcome to Shirley. Toughen up, punk."

    The story is repeated across the country.

    "Everything and everybody in here worked to keep you a whore -- even the prison," explained James Dunn, a prisoner and onetime sex slave in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison. "If a whore went to the authorities, all they'd do is tell you that since you [are] already a whore, they couldn't do nothing for you, and [that you should] go back to the dorm and settle down and be a good old lady. Hell, they'd even call the whore's old man up and tell him to take you back down and keep you quiet ... the most you'd get out of complaining is some marriage counseling, with them talking to you and your old man to iron out your difficulties."

    A veteran corrections officer, also from Louisiana, described a similar situation in a recent letter to a newspaper: "There are prison administrators who use inmate gangs to help manage the prison. Sex and human bodies become the coin of the realm. Is inmate 'X' writing letters to the editor of the local newspaper and filing lawsuits? Or perhaps he threw urine or feces on an employee? 'Well, Joe, you and Willie and Hank work him over, but be sure you don't break any bones and send him to the hospital. If you do a good job, I'll see that you get the blondest boy in the next shipment.'"

    When asked to comment on prison rape, Massachusetts Department of Correction spokesman Anthony Carnevale explained: "Well, that's prison ... I don't know what to tell you." Inmate-on-inmate rape in male prisons remains largely ignored, despite the fact that it is central to the politics of incarceration. The group Stop Prison Rape Inc. estimates that 600,000 men and boys are raped every year in American correctional facilities. (Other academic studies place the number much lower.)

    Most state prison systems, as well as the Federal Bureau of Prisons, lump all assaults, sexual and otherwise, into a single category; thus, they have no idea how many rapes are reported. Whatever the real figure, rape appears to be an integral part of prison life and one of its most terrifying features.

    Prison rights activists say the struggle to bring attention to prison rape is often an uphill one. "Prison rape continues because it's a management tool. It benefits the guards and wardens. There's no way around that fact," explains Tom Cahill, of Stop Prison Rape. Cahill should know. Thirty years ago, as a young political activist in San Antonio, Texas, he was set up by prison guards and gang-raped.

    "I was put in a gorilla cage. That's a cell organized by guards for a 'turning out party,'" says Cahill. "They told everyone I was a child molester." Six of Cahill's 30 cellmates beat, tortured and raped him for two days. And like thousands of other survivors, his life was never the same.

    "It's the ultimate humiliation, and it works on you for the rest of your life," says Cahill, his voice raising with anger. "I still feel mistrustful of people, and even among my friends I feel stigmatized. I still have flashbacks and bouts of incredible, consuming rage."

    Cahill's inner turmoil led to the destruction of his marriage. He ended up on the streets, and got involved in political fights that often landed him back in jail. While proud of his left-wing politics, Cahill now sees much of his sojourn as a macho and quixotic quest for redemption. Today, at age 62, Cahill lives on the bucolic north coast of California, where he channels his anger into activism.

    Many survivors are not so lucky. Some never pull out of the psychological nose-dive caused by prison rape and crash into a life of violence, self-destruction and sexual aggression.

    Victims of prison rape often turn their anger against innocents when they are set free. John William King -- the young white supremacist who dragged African-American James Byrd to death in Jasper, Texas, in 1998 -- is one such case. King was an ex-con; he'd served 21 months for burglary in the Beto Unit, the toughest joint in Texas. Shortly after arriving in prison, King -- then 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds -- was attacked by black prisoners and raped, according to his attorneys. He emerged from the dungeon transformed.

    Prison rape victims often implode psychologically after they return to the outside world. Jeannette Eatton saw that happen to her 19-year-old son, Alan. While serving time for petty theft and under-age drinking Alan was befriended by an older convict named "Cowboy, " who eventually raped his good-looking young friend at knifepoint.

    "Alan wasn't the same after that. He withdrew and started disliking people. He'd always been a people person. And he despised gays after that," says Jeannette Eatton.

    Six months after his release, a drunken, bitter Alan Eatton crashed his motorcycle and died. He'd just turned 20. In death, the young man from central Illinois drew an unlikely comparison to the famous T.E. Lawrence, who was almost undoubtedly raped in a Turkish prison. Lawrence -- solider, author, adventurer and champion of the Arab cause -- was a classic case of post-rape self-destruction. His dissolution involved self-imposed isolation, rage and depression; he abandoned his career and then died in a motorcycle accident that looked suspiciously suicidal. 

    More often than not, prison higher-ups ignore the problem. Utah prison officials, for instance, seeking accreditation of the system's medical facilities, maintained that there had never been a single rape in any Utah prison. Among the many nasty facts deflating the claim was a detailed trial transcript in which one inmate was convicted and sentenced to 15 years for raping a fellow prisoner.

    In Massachusetts, following the Boston Globe expos?, corrections bureaucrats still felt free to deny reality -- even as a freshly raped convict was in the hospital under going rectal surgery.

    Such denials are perfectly rational: To admit that inmates rape each other is to invite lawsuits. In 1994, the Supreme Court ruled in Farmer vs. Brennan that penitentiary officials are responsible for protecting prisoners from sexual predation. The case was launched by Dee Farmer, a pre-op transgender person serving 20 years for credit-card fraud, who was housed in a tank full of violent male prisoners -- where, to no one's surprise, Farmer was promptly and viciously gang raped.

    Since then, several other inmates have tried to sue for damages after contracting HIV as jailhouse sex slaves. One Illinois case was filed by Michael Blucker, a 28-year-old, married man serving time for a nonviolent crime. Blucker says he was beaten, gang-raped and then coerced into a form of sex slavery. In at least two cases correctional officers allegedly escorted Blucker from cell to cell, where he was raped and forced to service customers who paid his prison-guard pimps with cigarettes, drugs and candy.

    Despite the precedent set in Farmer's case, Blucker was not awarded damages. Upon his release he became a devout born-again Christian who treats his HIV with prayer rather than protease inhibitors.

    The transformation from convict to "punk" usually begins in one of two ways. A younger inmate might be taken under the wing of an older inmate; once debt and dependence are established the older inmate will rape and "turn out" the young prisoner.

    Alternatively, a gang of inmates may attack a weaker prisoner with overwhelming numbers and "punk" their prey. Once the victim has been "turned out," the aggressors announce their control to the general population, which in turn cements the deal through its tacit or active approval of the victim's new status. The freshly minted punk will find himself vulnerable to assault from all sides, as the prison grapevine informs everyone of his subordinate status. In the interests of survival, the targeted prisoner will usually choose one inmate as his "daddy" or "husband." In exchange for control of the punk, the "man" offers protection against other aggressors.

    Although the "daddies" have sex with other men, they are, in the hyper-macho cosmology of prison, not homosexual -- because they are not sexually penetrated themselves. The cult of manhood -- and the struggle to defend, defile and define it -- is the axis around which the prison sex system turns.

    The prison world's other subordinate "gender" is the "queens" -- transsexuals and cross-dressers who may embrace homosexual sex and a sexually submissive position in the prison hierarchy. Queens suffer sexual assault, but often they use their sexual powers and feminine charms to play stronger inmates off one another or to find a husband of their own liking.

    By whatever route one arrives, the second sex of the Big House are, like many women outside, forced into roles that range from nurturing wife to denigrated, over-worked "whore."

    The fatalistic logic of the joint explains away the workings of this system with a sort of macho karma: "He must have wanted it or he would have fought it off." The only one path of escape for the punk or potential punk is to kill his persecutor. But for a young man facing only five years it's a tough choice: be raped or commit murder and face a potential life sentence.

    Convict and writer Jack Henry Abbot took the latter path. "I was even told by the pigs who transported me to prison that I was being sent there to be reduced to a punk, to be shorn of my manhood," wrote Abbot in his classic "In the Belly of the Beast." "They felt I would be less arrogant once I had been turned into a cocksucker ... Before I was twenty-one years old I had killed one of the prisoners and wounded another. I never did get out of prison. I never was a punk."

    One of the few not-so-dark spots on the landscape is the San Francisco county jail system, run by maverick former lawyer Michael Hennessey and his right-hand man, Michael Marcum -- whose r?sum? includes fratricide and five years' hard time at Folsom Prison.

    "The most important thing you can do," explains Hennessey, "is have a thorough system for vetting prisoners. You have to separate violent and nonviolent offenders and, within those categories, the vulnerable from dangerous." San Francisco also has a clear protocol that, unlike most jail and prison systems, does not force victims to name their attackers. Hennessey has also designed his two new jails to avoid "blind spots," the standard terrain of assaults. In 1998 the San Francisco jail system, with a daily population of about 2,000, had nine reported rapes. When asked what he thought the real number of rapes was, Hennessey paused. "I'd like to think it's not too much higher than that." 
    salon.com | August 23, 1999

    Los Angeles Times 

    October 20, 1999, Wednesday, Home Edition 

    SECTION: Part A; Page 3; Metro Desk 

    LENGTH: 790 words 




          In graphic and tearful testimony, former inmate Eddie Dillard told a jury here Tuesday that he knew the fate that awaited him when guards transferred him to the cell of Corcoran State Prison's notorious "Booty Bandit.

    Telling jurors that his account was too painful to recall in every detail, Dillard said he pleaded with Officer Anthony Sylva that inmate Wayne Robertson was his documented enemy and a well-known rapist as Sylva led him to Robertson's cell that day in March 1993. 

    He said Sylva ignored his pleas and watched the cell door clang shut, vowing that he would check out Dillard's claim and if true, come back to relocate him. 

    But Dillard said no one returned and he was raped over and over during the next few days. 

    "I can't describe it," Dillard told the Superior Court jury, breaking down in tears. "Half of it I don't even want to remember. . . . I just remember him raping me again." 

    Sylva and colleagues Robert Decker, Joe Sanchez and Dale Brakebill are accused of aiding and abetting the rape of Dillard in the first trial of Corcoran guards in nearly a decade. Prosecutors allege that one of their motives was to punish Dillard, who had kicked a female guard at another prison. 

    The officers deny knowing about Robertson's history of raping at least a dozen cellmates and contend they had no ill motive in carrying out the cell transfer. 

    During his three hours on the witness stand Tuesday, Dillard said that after the first attack he told Sanchez that his life was in danger, but was left in Robertson's cell to endure another attack. 

    " Sanchez told me, 'You can hit a woman, but you can't hit him,' " Dillard said. "He laughed like it was a joke." 

    Dillard walked into the courtroom Tuesday only moments after Robertson, 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, head shaved but for a small ponytail, was led from the witness stand in manacles. Robertson, 42, had just finished testifying that the guards brought Dillard to him to "teach him how to do his time." 

    The contrast between the two men--once members of the same Compton gang--could not have been more stark. Dillard, 130 pounds and swallowed up by a baggy white knit sweater, looked like a skinny teenager. 

    When he spoke, Dillard's voice came out almost squeaky. At one point, the judge ordered a break in the trial when the 29-year-old man began to sob and couldn't compose himself. 

    Just 10 feet away, the four officers sat in a row with heads bowed as Dillard recounted the rape. 

    Sgt. Decker then shook his head and smirked, and defense attorney Wayne Ordos leaned forward to the officers and questioned the sincerity of Dillard's tears. "It's show time," Ordos said, out of earshot of the jury. 

    Dillard traced his troubles with Robertson to 1991, when they first met at Tehachapi State Prison. Robertson was in for first-degree murder; Dillard had been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon for his role in a drive-by shooting. 

    Even though they had belonged to the same gang, Dillard said, they hadn't known each other on the street because of their age difference. He said that shortly after their meeting Robertson asked that they share a cell and made sexual advances. Dillard said he later caught Robertson leering at him in the shower and the two got into a fight, Robertson knocking him back with one punch. After that, prison reports first documented the inmates as enemies. 

    The fact that they were enemies should have precluded Robertson and Dillard from sharing a cell at Corcoran, according to corrections policy. 

    Dillard said he repeatedly told the officers about the bad blood between them, but to no avail. He said he was locked in a cell with Dillard for three days before he was able to flee when the cell door finally opened. 

    He suggested that officers then orchestrated a cover-up, which included canceling his doctor's appointment for a rape exam, spreading the word among other inmates that he was an easy mark, and pressuring him to drop his complaint to corrections officials in Sacramento. Dillard testified that Decker called him out of his new cell three months later and said that if he didn't drop the complaint, he could "put me back in the cell with Robertson." 

    Dillard said he then dropped the complaint for a time. 

    Defense attorneys sought to portray Dillard as a malcontent who was quick to file complaints against guards. 

    During cross-examination, Ordos, who represents Sanchez, suggested that any sexual activity between the inmates was consensual. He pointed out that Dillard went to the doctor numerous times in the months after the incident and never mentioned a rape. 

    The trial is expected to last three more weeks. If convicted, the officers face up to nine years in prison.


    Los Angeles Times 


    What's happening beyond APU...

    By Allison Hummel
    Clause Staff Writer

  • HANFORD, Ca.--An inmate at the Cocoran state prison told a jury that his rape of another inmate, who was considered a troublemaker, came at the orders of prison correctional officers. 



    Wayne Robertson, the rapist, told the superior court that victim Eddie Dillard should not have been put in his cell. Robertson claimed that the officers knew the rape would occur, but they allowed it to happen in order to teach Dillard a lesson.

    "They knew Eddie Dillard was my enemy. And they knew who I was. They put Dillard in my cell for something to happen to him," Robertson testified.

    The testimony comes in the fourth week of the Kings County trial of four officers accused of aiding and abetting the rape. If found guilty, the officers could face one to nine years.


  • Guards Accused of Setting Up Rape 

  • Tuesday October 5 
    By KILEY RUSSELL Associated Press Writer 

    HANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Four guards have gone on trial, accused of using 
    a known sexual predator to rape an inmate as punishment for kicking a 
    female guard. 

    The alleged incident took place at the Corcoran State Prison, where 
    eight other officers face a later trial for allegedly setting up 
    gladiator-style battles among inmates for entertainment. 

    The guards are accused of putting 118-pound Eddie Dillard in the cell of 
    Wayne J. Robertson, a 230-pound sexual predator serving a life sentence. 

    Robertson admitted to a grand jury that he sodomized Dillard and 
    threatened to kill him if he put up a fight during the three days in 
    1993 when guards left the smaller man in the cell. 


    ``Dillard should have never been put in the cell with me, period,'' 
    Robertson testified to a grand jury. ``The Corrections Department used 
    me as a pawn to get inmate Dillard.'' 


    for the whole article.. go to the src. 
    src: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/19991005/us/prison_rape_trial_2.html 
    Posted November 4, 1999
    BEAT THE DEVIL byAlexander Cockburn
    California's Gulag on Trial

    W elcome to Corcoran State Prison, 170 miles northwest of Los Angeles in the San Joaquin Valley; built at a cost of $271.9 million on what was once Tulare Lake, home of the Tachi Indians; opened in l988, designed for 3,000 prisoners, now holding 5,030. Kings County has dairies, cotton fields and two other state prisons besides. When they were selecting the jury for the ongoing trial of four correctional officers in the town of Hanford, fifteen miles from Corcoran, more than a third of the 500 residents called for jury duty said they worked at one of the prisons or had a relative in corrections. 

    This brings us to Eddie Dillard. In March l993 this slight man was sent to Corcoran's Security Housing Unit after kicking an officer. Two guards led him to a cell, opened the door, and Dillard stared up into the face of Wayne Robertson, a k a the Booty Bandit, 6 foot 2. Dillard knew Robertson. The man had made sexual overtures to him and they'd had a fight. Dillard had formally reported that he and Robertson should never be housed together.

    "I'm not supposed to be in here," Dillard told the guards, who laughed and strolled away. Robertson knew and has testified to his role. Guards had told him Dillard "needs to learn how to do his time." For two days the Booty Bandit raped Dillard while guards ignored Dillard's hints that he was being attacked. Hints only, because Dillard didn't want to be killed as a snitch. Finally, Dillard, temporarily out of the cell, refused to return.

    Six years later Dillard is getting his day in Kings County Superior Court, with four guards charged with aiding and abetting his rape. Testifying for the prosecution is Roscoe Pondexter, a 6-foot-7 former basketball star, dismissed from the Corrections Department for excessive force and now a man redeemed. Like Dillard, Pondexter is black. The accused are white or Latino. The jury is white or Latino. It's the first criminal trial of Corcoran guards in nearly a decade and should end later this month. Outside the Los Angeles Times and some other California newspapers, I've seen almost nothing about the trial. This is shameful, since Corcoran vividly incarnates the peculiar horrors of our national gulag.

    Corcoran was conceived in the eighties as a model of "absolute control." Its heart is the Security Housing Unit, holding l,500 of those deemed the most dangerous of the state's metastasizing prison population. SHU guards determinedly forced the integration of deadly rivals--Aryan Brotherhood with Mexican Mafia, gang with gang. To quote the Times's Mark Arax, whose reporting on Corcoran is one of the great journalistic achievements of the decade, "By forcing such explosive combinations...corrections officials believed that the gangs would brutalize each other into submission, according to internal memos and interviews with SHU staffers. Integration, they said, would bust the gangs."

    The SHU opened for business on December 5, l988. By December 29 it saw its first shooting when a guard wounded an SHU inmate "by mistake" with a 9mm carbine. Then: 4/4/89, William Martinez shot dead in the SHU exercise yard; 6/29/89, William Randoll shot dead in SHU exercise yard; 4/8/93, Michael Mullins shot dead in general population yard; 5/l4/93, Vincent Tulum shot through neck in SHU exercise yard, now quadriplegic; 9/9/93, Henry Noriega shot dead in SHU exercise yard; 4/2/94, Preston Tate shot dead in SHU exercise yard; 5/30/94, Donald Creasy, shot dead in his cell by guards. All shootings were declared justifiable by review committees and boards composed of Corrections Department employees.

    By l996 Arax was reporting that whistleblowing guards had described "gladiator days" at Corcoran, when guards would stage fights between inmates and occasionally kill one of the antagonists. The state was investigating a 1995 episode when shackled men arriving from Calipatria prison were savagely beaten by guards screaming "Welcome to hell!" Even Governor Pete Wilson felt the heat. In response, Corrections won a permanent ban on reporters' face-to-face interviews with inmates.

    In a draft report of April l997 an investigative team appointed by the Corrections Department substantiated the "selective cover up of excessive force" by Corcoran guards, plus the "disturbing" fact that potential targets of the probe often investigated themselves. On the instigation of Governor Wilson this draft was deep-sixed, and the California Justice Department concluded that there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges.

    In l998 a federal grand jury indicted eight Corcoran guards for staging gladiatorial combat, among other abuses.The Corrections Department, for the first time in its history, said it would foot the guards' legal bills. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) told its members they did not have to talk to investigators from the FBI or the US Attorney's office.

    The CCPOA, with 28,000 members, has lethal clout. When Greg Strickland, the Kings County DA, prosecuted some Corcoran guards for the "Welcome to hell" incident, the union put more than $25,000 behind his opponent. Strickland went down. Last July Bill Lockyer, the state Attorney General, told legislators that local DAs had admitted to him that they didn't dare go up against the CCPOA. Lockyer learned soon enough what they meant. A bill giving him power to police the prison system sailed through the State Senate; then the CCPOA sank it in the Assembly. He quoted one Assemblyman, Jim Battin (who later denied it) as saying, "Sorry, but I'm whoring for the CCPOA." Battin has got $l05,000 from the guards' union in the past four years.

    Can anyone curb the CCPOA? Don't look to Governor Gray Davis. He collected $2.3 million from the union for his l998 campaign and has got more since. In thanks he vetoed a bill that would have shifted parole violators to community-based programs (lowering the prison population, hence the need for guards). He also vetoed a bill to rescind the constraints on journalists.

    Before the trial in Hanford the CCPOA ran local ads hailing the guards who walk "the toughest beat in the state." This could be construed as jury-tampering, not only for this trial but for the future federal one. There was a bleat from a federal prosecutor but nothing more. A lot rests on the verdict of the Hanford jurors.

    Alexander Cockburn

    Alexander Cockburn has been The Nation's "Beat the Devil" columnist since 1984. One of America's best-known radical journalists, he currently contributes a nationally syndicated column to the Los Angeles Times and co-edits the newsletter CounterPunch. His latest book, written with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Al Gore: A User's Manual (Verso, 2000). 

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    Jails & Prisons

      Guarding their silence
    Prisoners' rights advocates say a code of silence among prison guards led to the acquittal of the officers charged with arranging the rape of an inmate.

    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    By Christian Parenti

    Nov. 22, 1999The acquittal earlier this month of four California corrections officers charged with arranging for a young inmate to be raped by Corcoran State Prison's notorious "Booty Bandit" was the result of a massive legal and political show of force on the part of the state's prison guards union, prisoners' advocates say. The four guards were facing nine years in prison. 

    State prosecutors alleged that in March 1993, the four Corcoran State Prison Security Housing Unit officers, led by Sgt. Robert Alan Decker, deliberately transferred inmate Eddie Dillard to the cell of Wayne Robertson, aka the "Booty Bandit" knowing that the younger, smaller inmate would be raped. At trial, Robertson testified that he had indeed beaten and sodomized Dillard for two days because guards had said that Dillard needed to "learn how to do his time."

    But the defense -- led by four adroit lawyers and funded by the guards' union -- countered that the accused guards had no idea at the time that Robertson was a rapist. "I agree that Wayne Robertson is a rapist and a thug, but that fact was not known to the floor staff," said defense attorney Curtis Sisk in his opening arguments. One of the officers told the jury that the first time he even heard of Wayne Robertson was in an article in the Los Angeles Times. 

    The California Correctional Peace Officers Association -- which paid the defendants' legal costs and launched a media campaign to support them -- is one of the state's most powerful lobbies. During the last election cycle, the group poured millions of dollars into state races, supporting candidates from both parties and waging a $2 million media campaign on behalf of Gov. Gray Davis.

    "We are obviously very pleased. The four guards and their families are the real victims here," said union president Don Novey.

    With a pending federal trial and several criminal investigations of prison staff still open, the CCPOA left as little as possible to chance during the state investigation and trial. The union's publication, the Peace Keeper, encouraged rank-and-file members not to trust or speak with the FBI and state investigators. Critics of the union say this and quick intervention by CCPOA lawyers effectively shut down the flow of information at the source.

    As the so-called "Booty Bandit" trial approached, the CCPOA also turned to the public relations side of the political equation, targeting Hanford-area residents with a slew of radio and TV ads full of menacing, tattooed convicts and brave guards walking "the toughest beat in the state." (The union says the timing of the ads was mere coincidence, and was not related to the pending case.)

    And once arguments in the case opened, the CCPOA's concern was manifest in attendance of a steady stream of local chapter officials and union heavies.

    For prisoners' rights activists like Tom Quinn, a private investigator who specializes in researching cases against California jails and prisons, the presence of CCPOA honchos was just another example of how a code of silence is encouraged and enforced by the leadership of both the union and the Department of Corrections. 

    "Fundamentally, the claim that these guards didn't know that Robertson was a rapist is totally implausible," Quinn said. "The SHU [Security Housing Unit] is a unique social experiment designed to generate information." Along with elaborate records and dossiers kept on all the inmates, Quinn points out that guards have a relatively clear view into most of the SHU cells, both from the tier and from inside the control booth. "Furthermore," adds Quinn, "the C.O.s [correctional officers] are constantly working snitches. They know who's who. And they knew ... that Robertson was a rapist."

    Quinn's claims were affirmed by Connie Foster, who worked as a staff member at Corcoran in 1993. "I heard about Robertson a week after I arrived," Foster said.Part 2Guarding their silence | page 1, 2, 3

    But despite claims like these, the state has had difficulty breaking the guards' silence. Among other things, say the union's critics, the CCPOA's massive campaign war chest has proved a valuable tool in discouraging local district attorneys from prosecuting cases against prison guards.

    The Dillard case, for example, was almost filed by the Kings County district attorney, but Greg Strickland, who then held the county post, dropped the charges, citing lack of evidence. Many speculate that Strickland was also scared of the CCPOA. He had already crossed the group once, by prosecuting Corcoran guards involved in a 1995 beating incident. Sure enough, the union's wrath materialized during the next D.A.'s race, in the form of a massive campaign donation to Strickland's opponent. In testimony before a state legislative committee, Strickland suggested the creation of "an independent prosecution unit" because, as he put it, "My incumbent owes the CCPOA $30,000 worth of campaign contributions." That project was vetoed by Gov. Davis, but a compromise was eventually struck, leading to the creation of a new inspector general position, which is filled by gubernatorial appointment.

    Lockyer spokesman Nathan Barankin said that getting good investigations from local prosecutors and police forces in the small towns that house many of these prisons continues to be a problem. He said in the Dillard case specifically, there was no investigation after the crime was committed.

    Barankin did acknowledge that, in the wake of this case and the federal investigation at Corcoran, a number of changes have been implemented both by the Legislature and the Department of Corrections. Besides the new inspector general position, new shooting policies have been implemented at all state prison facilities.

    Still, Barankin conceded, the new policies are not a guarantee that this will never happen again: "You can investigate until you're blue in the face, but you still have the question of who prosecutes it." Barankin said local district attorneys would normally prosecute these cases, but that in the small counties where most state prisons are located, "to accept one of these cases would eat up everybody you have in the place, plus every red cent you've got to get one of these cases to court." The local D.A. could hand the case off to the attorney general, but Barankin said by the time that happens, usually "the A.G.'s office comes in to pull together the pieces. D.A.s have their own investigators" who work closely with local police right after the crime is reported. "It remains to be seen if this new inspector general will work the same way."

    While prisoners' rights activists sympathized with Barankin, they blamed Lockyer's office -- specifically deputy attorney general Vern Pierson -- for botching the prosecution. They say the state's strategy failed to make the code of silence and culture of terror at Corcoran central issues in the case.

    Based on his research of California jails and prisons, Quinn said the "Booty Bandit" trial was about much more than the fate of four prison guards. "Clearly, part of what was on trial here was the guards' code of silence, the power of the CCPOA and the culture of terror that defines life in California's maximum security prisons," he said.

    Quinn acknowledged that much of that was impossible to pursue in court when Judge Louis Bissig disallowed conspiracy charges brought against the four guards. "Our hands were tied by some of the judge's rulings and the fact that it took five years for this crime to surface and be prosecuted," Pierson told the Los Angeles Times. "And it's never easy when your best witnesses of what really happened are felons and officers who have committed [crimes] themselves."

    That sentiment was echoed by Barankin. "Having the conspiracy charges thrown out by the judge was gigantic. That can't be quantified," he said. But Barankin conceded that "there were all sorts of places along the way where things fell apart

    Part 3

    Guarding their silence | page 1, 2, 3

    Activists say much of the blame rests with Pierson, arguing that his most crucial misstep was the handling of star witness Roscoe "Bonecrusher" Pondexter. A former guard and onetime professional basketball player, Pondexter testified against the four accused guards in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

    Pondexter testified that he was once a sadistic "search and escort" officer in the Corcoran SHU. He ran with a gang of guards called the Sharks and his specialty was to beat and strangle prisoners. "We would show them 'the Corcoran way' and tell them this was a 'hands on' institution," said Pondexter. He was eventually fired for brutality.

    But Pondexter's testimony was later picked apart by defense attorney Katherine Hart, who showed that Pondexter was on vacation the day Dillard was moved into the Booty Bandit's cell. Pondexter had previously testified he was working that day. "You had a faulty memory about that, didn't you?" asked Hart.

    "Yes," Pondexter admitted, squandering much of his credibility in the process.

    Afterward, a vexed and embarrassed Pondexter was heard complaining to a friend that Pierson hardly prepared him for testimony, briefing and questioning him for only 25 minutes, just before he took the stand.

    Barankin refuted that claim, saying prosecutors spent "a considerable amount of time preparing Mr. Pondexter for the trial." When asked about why they did not check records that showed Pondexter was not even working that day, Barankin said, "The defense had access to information we didn't have. We found out the same time [the jury] did."

    Also missing from the state's case was much of the detail that had emerged during grand jury testimony and during last year's legislative hearings. According to both these inquiries, the story of the Dillard rape and ensuing coverup went as follows: Dillard and Robertson -- both members of the Piru Bloods, a Los Angeles street gang, though separated by a 20-year age difference -- had first come into conflict at Tehachapi State Prison in 1992. There Robertson made sexual advances on Dillard and was rebuffed. Soon thereafter Robertson, already a documented jailhouse rapist, was transferred to the Corcoran SHU.

    In 1993, Dillard kicked a female guard and was sent north to Corcoran. In his grand jury deposition, Robertson told how Sgt. Robert Alan Decker showed him a list of four proposed cellmates. Robertson chose Dillard and a few days latter, while lying on his bunk, looked up to see the protesting Dillard being thrust into his cell by two officers.

    Dillard explained the rest when he took the stand: "Before I knew it, we were getting into it. We were tussling and he said he was going to rape me. I tried to fight him off but I couldn't. He raped me," said, Dillard, his voice breaking. Dillard finally escaped the cell when guards came to take Robertson to an unrelated disciplinary hearing. Desperate, Dillard refused to re-enter the cell.

    Finally, Dillard told an officer that Robertson had raped him. The officer filed a report and passed it on to a sergeant, but the report was lost. Dillard was then examined by a prison medic, who saw no sign of rape. A doctor examined Dillard and ordered a "rape kit" -- a full internal rape examination -- but the order was quickly and mysteriously countermanded and Dillard was never properly examined. After getting a new cell, Dillard started sending administrative complaints, known as "602s," about Sgt. Decker and the rape to officials in Sacramento. 

    Records show that on June 16, 1993, Dillard suddenly withdrew his complaint and stopped his follow-ups. That was the same day that Decker signed in for a visit with Dillard on his new cell block. According to Dillard, Decker gave him a simple choice: Drop the 602, or go "back in the cell with Robertson."

    Little of this chronology was spelled out during the trial, though, and none of the defense witnesses seemed to remember much -- all of which undermined the prosecution's case.

    "We went over everything, covered everything, a lot of documents," the jury foreman, who declined to give his name, told the Los Angeles Times. "In the end, there was just too much reasonable doubt. There just wasn't a lot of evidence that supported what the prosecutor was trying to prove."

    That was the fault of the prosecution, said prisoners' rights attorney Catherine Campbell. "My impression was that [Pierson] was on automatic, doing a job that was distasteful to him," she said. "He had no moral passion. The lapses, particularly the one with Pondexter -- that sort of thing throws a witness off center."

    The attorney general's office stood by Pierson, saying that he had inherited an impossible situation. "The football field is littered with Monday-morning quarterbacks," said Barankin. He agreed that "most right-thinking people should feel a sense of moral outrage based upon the evidence that we were privy to. Unfortunately, the jury was not allowed to hear all that evidence."

    The issue of the code of silence may yet be raised in court. Eight other guards stand trial in March on federal charges for shooting Corcoran inmates.
    salon.com | Nov. 22, 1999

    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    About the writer
    Christian Parenti is the author of "Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis."

     ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------November 10, 1999

    Four Corcoran State Prison guards were acquitted this Monday of setting up the March 1993 rape of a prisoner, a verdict that was immediately praised by the prison guards union and condemned by prisoners rights advocates. 

    The officers, Robert Decker, Joe Sanchez, Anthony Silva and Dale Brakebill, were found not guilty of setting up the rape of Eddie Dillard when they put him in a cell with a known sexual predator who was nearly twice his size. Wayne Robertson, known by the nickname "the Booty Bandit," raped Dillard repeatedly after the guards left Dillard in his cell for two days. The incident took place at one of the most notoriously violent prisons in the country. 

    The five week trial - the first criminal trial of Corcoran guards in a decade - included testimony from Dillard and Robertson, as well as a whistle blowing guard who participated in the brutal incident. Nevertheless, the jury acquitted the four guards. 

    The stakes were high not only for the guards, but also for the guards union and the attorney general's office, which was criticized in legislative hearings last year for ignoring numerous incidents of brutality at Corcoran. Another group of Corcoran prison guards face trial this coming March for setting up "Turkey shoots" in the prison yard, putting prisoners who are known enemies together, waging bets on the outcome of their fights and shooting them. 

    Here are some original articles about the Dillard rape case from the PNN archives: 

    The Fresno Bee 
    Inmate testifies about Corcoran prison rape 
    Wayne Robertson says he spoke with a Corcoran guard before Eddie Dillard was moved to his cell. 

    By Lewis Griswold 
    The Fresno Bee 
    (Published October 19, 1999) 

    Four Corcoran State Prison guards wanted inmate Eddie Dillard to learn a lesson when they placed him in a cell with Wayne Robertson, an inmate known to rape his cellmates, Robertson testified Monday. 

    Intense and articulate, Robertson, 42, told the jury of eight men and four women in a Kings County courtroom that the guards who put Dillard, 23, into his cell knew better. 

    "He was my enemy," said Robertson, 6 feet 2 inches tall and 220 pounds. "They knew if they put him in there something would happen to him." 

    Robertson, also known as the "Booty Bandit," testified that he spoke with Sgt. Robert Allan Decker two days before Dillard, who weighed 118 pounds, was moved into the cell. 

    Decker told him Dillard "needs to learn to do his time," Robertson said. "About two days later, the cellie I had was moved out and Dillard moved in." That was March 5, 1993, a Friday. 

    The following day, Robertson said he kicked Dillard in the chest and knocked the wind out of him. Dillard "hollered for staff," Robertson said, "but no one came." 

    "I sodomized him all night," said Robertson, who was chained to the witness stand. He had a nearly shaved head and a thin braided ponytail. 

    The four officers accused of setting up Dillard's rape are Decker, Sgt. Dale Brakebill and correctional officers Anthony Sylva and Joe Sanchez. 

    The State Attorney General's Office, which is prosecuting the case, is attempting to show that Decker and the others purposely put Dillard in the cell to punish him for striking a female guard at 
    another prison. 

    Decker's lawyer, Curtis Sisk, has said Decker was not at work the day Dillard was moved. 
    After Dillard was brought to Robertson's cell, he banged on the door and told two officers, including former officer Roscoe Pondexter, his life was in danger. 

    "Pondexter started laughing like it was some kind of joke," Robertson said. "They walked away." 
    Pondexter, who is immune from prosecution, has testified against the four guards. 

    The assault occurred over two nights, during which time, the guards didn't let the two out into the exercise yard, Robertson said. The day after the second sexual assault, Dillard ran from the cell when the door was opened and refused to return. 

    On cross-examination, defense lawyer Gerald Lewis, representing Sylva, asked Robertson whether there was a "dispute" between Dillard and the guards putting him in the cell. Robertson said no. And defense lawyer Katharine Hart asked Robertson whether he was "the Booty Bandit." 

    "That's another label you guys placed on me," Robertson said. "That's the term I read in the paper." 
    About halfway through his testimony, Robertson balked at being a witness, saying he was being "retaliated against" by the State Department of Corrections. 

    During the break, Assistant Attorney General Vernon Pierson spoke with Robertson and promised he would personally get assurances of protection from Department of Corrections Director Cal Terhune in Sacramento. 

    Robertson is doing life without parole and is housed at the maximum-security housing unit at Pelican Bay State Prison. 

    Guard Testifies About Inmate's Rapes

    Says He Feels No Compassion for Victim 

    Oct. 15, 1999 

    HANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- A former prison guard nicknamed "Bonecrusher" testified Thursday that he feels no compassion for an inmate who was repeatedly raped by a known sexual predator. 

    Roscoe Pondexter told jurors in the trial of four Corcoran State Prison guards accused of setting up the rape that inmate Eddie Dillard was of little consequence to him at the time. 

    Pondexter, testifying for the prosecution under a grant of immunity, has repeatedly said that his fellow officers knew they were endangering the 23-year-old Dillard when they left him in a cell with Wayne Robertson. 

    'It doesn't matter to me' 

    Prosecutors say the guards did it to punish Dillard for kicking a female guard. 

    "If you thought Eddie Dillard was in peril, wouldn't you do something to see he was released from the cell with Robertson?" asked defense lawyer Katherine Heart during the second day of Pondexter's cross-examination. 

    "Probably not," said Pondexter after a long silence. "If he comes up to me and says, 'I'm being raped,' or 'I'm being physically assaulted,' I would act on that. 

    "But I have no compassion for Eddie Dillard, so it doesn't matter to me that he's feeling all these things," he said. 

    Pondexter said it was his job to teach newly arrived inmates that Corcoran State Prison was a place where the guards were in charge and wouldn't hesitate to use violence to maintain order. 

    Used excessive force 

    Pondexter was fired from his job as a Corcoran guard after being accused of using excessive force on inmates -- a practice that earned him the nickname "Bonecrusher." 

    "I think he's angry at his employer and that's part of his impetus to this," said defense lawyer Curtis Sisk during a break in the trial. 

    After two failed state investigations, Pondexter broke ranks and supported Dillard's account in testimony to a special grand jury, which indicted the guards last year on charges of aiding and abetting the rape. 

    Robert Decker, Dale Brakebill, Anthony Sylva and Joe Sanchez face up to nine years in prison if convicted. 

    Corcoran Rapist Marked for Death at Pelican Bay, Tom Hayden Says
    Inmate allegedly was told to attack by prison guards

    Pamela J. Podger, Chronicle Staff Writer Thursday, August 20, 1998 

    A burly inmate who was allegedly used by guards at Corcoran State Prison to rape and beat other inmates has been placed where he could suffer brutal retaliation, a state senator said yesterday. 

    Wayne Jerome Robertson, nicknamed the ``Booty Bandit'' for his history of prison rapes, has been cleared for placement in the general population at Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City. 
    ``It is almost certain that he would be targeted for death,'' said Senator Tom Hayden, D-Los Angeles, a vocal critic of the Department of Corrections. 

    ``He is sorry sack of s--, but you don't use him to rape a bunch of prisoners and then throw him out on the yard to be slaughtered,'' Hayden said. ``I just think if safety in prisons means anything, Robertson must be isolated or steps have to be taken to prevent a predictable act of revenge.'' 
    The situation is so laden with potential disaster, Hayden said, it raises questions of whether the prison system is trying to silence Robertson. 

    Robertson's alleged cell-block crimes are a key element of what state and federal investigators are probing. Whistle blowers claim that Corcoran guards set up inmate fights, condoned violence, mistreated problem inmates and then conspired to cover up the incidents. Guards at Corcoran, which opened in 1988, have so far wounded 43 inmates and killed seven. 

    Hayden said he fears that Robertson, who was moved to Pelican Bay a year ago, may be in jeopardy from the inmate culture of revenge. In testimony before a joint legislative hearing in Sacramento, investigators said the 230-pound Robertson was given extra sack lunches and tennis shoes for meting out punishment at the behest of guards at the maximum-security prison, which is located in the San Joaquin Valley. 

    State corrections investigator John Harrison told lawmakers he heard of a coverup attempt by Corcoran staff members, who condoned Robertson's repeated rapes of Eddie Dillard, a 120-pound, first- time convict. The state attorney general is conducting a criminal investigation into the rapes. 
    Hayden questioned yesterday why Robinson was cleared for the main line at Pelican Bay by prison officials. 

    ``Was this just an administrative mistake?'' Hayden asked. ``Is he disposable? 

    I'm reminded of all kinds of cases, especially in foreign policy, where officials utilize some lowlife guy for a squalid mission and then dump him. 

    ``The public should be aware that this man was encouraged by some guards to beat and rape other prisoners. Robertson is a cog in a machine, a disposable part of this process of cruel and unusual punishment inside the prisons. 

    Secondly, he is a potential witness . . . and if he is dead, his testimony dies with him.'' 
    The senator told Department of Corrections Director Cal Terhune of his concerns 
    about Robertson on Tuesday, during the fifth day of joint legislative hearings into crimes at Corcoran. 

    Asked whether he was aware of Robertson's placement in the general population, where he will have contact with other inmates, Terhune told a reporter that he did not know about it. 

    ``No, I hadn't known about that,'' Terhune said. ``But believe me, he can take care of himself.'' 
    Tip Kindel, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said Terhune promised yesterday to look into Robertson's placement, either at Pelican Bay or at another state prison. 

    Robertson, a convicted murderer, is serving a life term without possibility of parole. He has been in prison since 1961. 

    ©1998 San Francisco Chronicle Page A24 


                   PRESS RELEASE: Rape Victim Dillard's federal lawsuit delayed indefinitely pending Governor's approval of CDC guards' legal defense team 

              Date:     June 28, 2002 

         At 3:00 p.m., on Monday, July 1, 2002, in a scheduled telephonic hearing with U.S. District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii, rape victim Eddie Dillard's attorneys will ask a fourth time for the stay to be lifted on his civil lawsuit against the four California Department of Corrections employees who conspired to place and keep Dillard in a cell for three days with a recidivist cellie rapist twice Dillard's size, and, thereafter, cover up their misconduct. 

         The lawsuit has been stymied for over seven months because Governor Gray Davis' office has not signed contracts approving the defense attorneys selected by the correctional officers. 

         Since he was raped in March 1993, Dillard has completed his sentence, married, and started a family.  He and his wife have two sons, ages 5 and 2.  But he also has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.  While his lawsuit remains open, so do his scars. 

         In March 1993, Dillard was ordered into, and left for three days in Wayne Robertson's cell.  According to Robertson, defendant Sergeant Robert Allen Decker, who was responsible for the cell transfer, told Robertson to teach Dillard "how to do his time."  Dillard -- less than 120 lbs at the time -- wass transferred to Corcoran because the first-time offender was accused of kicking a female guard.  Robertson, approximately 6'1/2" and a muscular 215 to 240 lbs, was described by a Corcoran official as "a refrigerator with legs." 

         Serving a life sentence for killing, execution style, a liquor store clerk during a robbery, Robertson also had an extremely well-documented history as a sexual predator.  In fact, the reason he was transferred to the high security Corcoran facility was because, in the summer before at another facility, he raped one cellmate, sexually assaulted a second inmate and attacked an officer.  Moreover, Robertson had been disciplined at still another institution for assaulting no less than the same person with whom he was celled with, Dillard.  Dillard has explained in prior testimony how he pleaded with defendant officer Anthony J. Sylva not to place him in the cell with Robertson, explaining the circumstances, their enemy status and Robertson's reputation.  According to Dillard, though, Sylva pushed him into the cell, with remarks indicating that it was payback for a prior incident in which Dillard was accused of kicking a female officer at Tehachapi in the shin. 

         Robertson testified before a Hanford grand jury, with the same matter-of-factness as that he benchpresses 400 lbs, how he beat Dillard then raped and sodomized him "all night."  During the second day in his cell, when Dillard tried to enlist the support of defendant officer Joe Sanchez on the tier passing out meals, Sanchez responded, "So you could hit a woman but you can't fight him back." 

         On the third night, after Dillard was able to escape from the cell, correctional officers who gathered around him joked how Dillard got his "doughnut glazed."  Shortly thereafter, a CDC doctor's order to have Dillard transferred to a local hospital for a rape examination and treatment was mysteriously canceled. 

         The responding MTA (Medical Technical Assistant) contends that she relayed the transfer orders to the Corcoran Security Squad, and that someone from the Squad called her back canceling the order.  But the Security Squad never received the order. 

         The following summer at Corcoran, Robertson raped three more cellmates, two of whom were, like Dillard, accused in official records of being "staff assaulters."  The incident reports regarding two of those summer rapes have, assuming they ever existed, disappeared. 

         Dillard, without legal representation, filed a lawsuit on his own behalf in January, 1994.  His lawsuit drew little attention until, July 6, 1998, when a newspaper reporter for the Los Angeles Times, reporting on abuses at Corcoran Prison, Mark Arax, reported a former corrections' officer concession that Dillard had been placed in Robertson's cell with the expectation that he would be sexually assaulted. 

         In response, an administrative investigation was opened and submitted to the State Attorney General's office.  In October 1999, after obtaining a grand jury indictment against four officers, the Attorney General's Office prosecuted but failed to obtain a conviction against the four correctional officers in Hanford, a small town predominantly inhabited by Corcoran guards and their families. 

         In September 1998, in the related federal civil lawsuit, the Department of Corrections withdrew its financial support of the four defendants' attorney fees, notwithstanding that three of the defendants continued to work for the CDC.   Under state law, the CDC's withdrawal of the correctional officers' defense took the CDC off the hook for any judgment or settlement Dillard might have obtained.  In court papers, the CDC, argued that the withdraw of support was fair because its employees engaged in misconduct that: 

                        is neither a risk that "may fairly be regarded as typical or broadly 
                        incidental" to the purpose and mission of CDC, nor is it a 
                        foreseeable consequence of the business conducted by CDC. 
                       [cite] Conversely, the conduct is so unusual and startling that it 
                       would be patently unfair to include the loss resulting from it, here 
                       the injuries sustained by Dillard, among the other costs of CDC's 

         In January, 2001, both the four Dillard defendants and Eddie Dillard successfully challenged the CDC's withdrawal in state court.  In that proceeding, Dillard answered the CDC's claim that guards tolerating or abetting rapes was an unforeseeable consequence of CDC business with a summary of  documents that Dillard's attorneys obtained in discovery. 

         These documents demonstrated that, in every year since Robertson was admitted into the CDC in 1981, the CDC had specific knowledge that he committed batteries, sexual assaults and/or serious rules violations.  Still, he received more cellmates. 

      Often, the reports prepared by correctional officers were graphic.  One officer reported that Robertson, sporting a vaseline covered erection, cut off the underwear of one of his cellmate victims with a razor blade.  Another reported witnessing Robertson tearing off the underwear of a cellmate while threatening him with greater violence if he failed to submit.  Multiple times he has been caught in the act of sexually assaulting; multiple times reported telling his cellmates to "fight or f---"; and multiple times cellmates have left his cell bleeding and sometimes dripping with Robertson's bodily fluids. 

         When Robertson was deprived of cellmates, according to CDC reports, he manipulated guards, set fires to his cell, even wrote appeals claiming that his constitutional right to a cellmate was being denied.  He has been repeatedly "written up" for having weapons (and using them) and for covering the windows and lights in his cells.  In one instance, he feigned illness. When officers escorted him from his cell, Robertson laughingly joked to other inmates on the tier, "I told you I'd get my move, and tomorrow I'll be back . . . and I'll have a cellie!"  His confidence was justified.  As late as 1998 -- when Dillard's access to documents regarding Robertson ceases -- Robertson was still at it. 

         In March 2001, the CDC appealed the Hanford Superior Court's Order that it provide a defense to the four Dillard defendants (and, thereby, take financial responsibility for any compensatory, but not necessarily punitive damages, awarded against the four in favor of Dillard).  But on the eve of oral argument, the CDC withdrew its appeal and agreed to take responsibility for the correctional officers' defense and a possible compensatory damages.  Now the CDC is in the position of paying for a defense of CDC employees in federal court who the CDC essentially argued in state court were responsible for the harm Dillard suffered. 

         Meanwhile, Dillard's federal lawsuit has remained moribund since March 2001, when the CDC first argued it should not be held legally responsible.  Since the CDC reversed its legal position in December 2001, there have been three status conferences held in the federal civil rights lawsuit.  In each, the federal court judge has left the stay in place because three of the four defendants have not had their selection of attorneys confirmed by the Governor's Office. 

         Meanwhile, all Dillard can do is wait for the stay to be lifted. 

         When asked about the delay, one of Dillard's attorney's, Bastian, remarked, "Possible excuses I have heard are the Governor's office is busy with the budget, they don't want a trial in an election year, and this Governor's procedures for getting approvals are too ponderous. 

        Whatever the reason for the delay, it is inexcusable. 



    State will defend 4 in prison rape case

    By Kerri Ginis -- The Fresno Bee 
    Published 5:30 a.m. PDT Sunday, December 30, 2001 

    The California Department of Corrections will defend four current and former prison employees in an upcoming federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a former Corcoran inmate. 

    An agreement approved this month by Gov. Gray Davis upholds an earlier decision issued by a state trial court in Hanford that the Department of Corrections must pay for a defense for the prison staffers. 

    The four are accused in a federal civil lawsuit of purposely placing former Corcoran prisoner Eddie Dillard in a cell with a known rapist, Wayne Robertson. 

    Robertson repeatedly raped and assaulted Dillard over three days in March 1993. 

    Three of the defendants -- officers Robert Allan Decker, Anthony J. Sylva and Joe Sanchez -- were acquitted in 1999 of setting up Dillard to be raped for allegedly kicking an officer at another prison. 

    Also named in the lawsuit is Kathy Horton-Plant, a former medical technical assistant who no longer is employed with the CDC. 

    When Dillard filed the federal civil rights lawsuit, the CDC intended to represent the officers. But after an investigation into Dillard's allegations, the state agency dropped its defense, claiming the officers had acted inappropriately. 

    "During investigations that were done, the CDC learned that the officers did, in fact, do what Dillard alleged," said Deputy Attorney General David Taglienti, who represented the CDC in its appeal. "They had either promoted, encouraged or covered up the rape of inmate Eddie Dillard, and the consequence of that was the CDC withdrawing its defense." 

    The correctional officers petitioned the state trial court, asking the court to order the CDC to provide a defense for them. 

    Last spring the court ruled in favor of the officers. The CDC appealed, but now that Davis has ruled in favor of the agreement, the CDC does not plan to file any further appeals, Taglienti said. 

    The correctional officers are pleased that the CDC will foot the bill for their defense, said Gary Messing, a lawyer with Carroll, Burdick and McDonough, who represented the officers. 

    About the Writer 

    The Fresno Bee's Kerri Ginis can be reached at (559) 622-2417 or kginis@fresnobee.com  . 


    (Published Monday, December, 31, 2001 4:57AM) 

    Corcoran guards wait for civil trial 

    By Jerry Bier 
    The Fresno Bee 

    Eddie Dillard is taking a few classes, but mostly staying home in the Los Angeles area helping to take care of two young children while his wife works. Being "Mr. Mom," his lawyer says. 
    And Dillard is waiting. Waiting for his day in court, based on his 1994 civil lawsuit filed in federal court in which he accused guards and others of putting him into a cell with a known rapist at Corcoran State Prison. 

    Nearly nine years ago, Dillard was a skinny Corcoran State Prison inmate, placed in the confines of the security housing unit for making a big mistake at another prison -- he kicked a female officer in the shin and thus earned a reputation as "a loudmouth staff assaulter." 

    Dillard, then 23, was serving a 10-year term. He was a 5-foot-7, 118-pound Los Angeles gang-banger convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and robbery. First placed in Calipatria State Prison, he was transferred to Corcoran after the kicking incident. 

    Dillard was placed into the cell of 6-foot-3, 220-pound Wayne Robertson, tagged as "the Booty Bandit" for his sexual attacks on other inmates. 

    It wasn't long before Dillard became another victim. 

    In January 1994, he filed suit against prison officials and the guards who placed him into the cell with Robertson. He has been waiting since then for the case to come to trial, delayed time and again by behind-the-scenes legal battles that now fill six volumes in the federal court clerk's office in Fresno. 

    Four guards went on trial in 1999 on criminal charges in the Dillard case and were acquitted by a Hanford jury that deliberated over parts of three days. After the verdicts, the jury foreman said the panel concluded there was "just too much reasonable doubt" to convict the officers of deliberately placing Dillard in the cell with Robertson. 

    Dillard had accused the guards of laughing at his protests about being placed in the cell with Robertson. He was attacked twice by the bigger man before he was able to receive help. 

    Robertson, serving life without parole for murder and other crimes, was a known predator, according to a prosecutor at the guards' criminal trial, and had a prison record "dating back well over a decade chronicling numerous incidents of sexual assault against fellow inmates, as well as his reputation for selecting younger, smaller, vulnerable inmates as prey." 

    The California Department of Corrections had refused to pay for the guards' defense in the criminal trial after conducting an investigation of the Dillard incident and concluding that some correctional officers engaged in a "selective cover-up of excessive force." 

    However, more recently, a Hanford judge ruled that the CDC was responsible for the guards' legal fees for the civil lawsuit and Gov. Davis approved a settlement calling for the department to defend four current and former prison employees still named as defendants. 

    Three of the officers named in the civil suit -- Robert Allan Decker, Anthony J. Sylva and Joe Sanchez -- were acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing during the trial in Kings County. Also named in the lawsuit is Kathy Horton-Plant, a former medical technical assistant who no longer is employed with CDC. 

    Dillard's lawyer, Robert L. Bastian Jr. of Los Angeles, said the decision by the governor also helps Dillard because if a jury were to rule in favor of the former inmate, the CDC could be held responsible for any compensatory damages. 

    The jury trial before U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii had been scheduled for Jan. 8, but the date was vacated while the CDC and guards battled over who would pay the legal fees. Now, Bastian says, a new trial date will be set, probably in the spring. 

    In the meantime, the lawyer says, Dillard is getting on with his life, although "he still suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome" from the attacks by Robertson. 

    Dillard served his prison term and has since married and is the father of two young sons, Bastian said. "He's not working; he's Mr. Mom, staying home taking care of the children and going to school." 

    There is still a chance the case could be settled. "I imagine a settlement conference will be set and we'll test the waters," Bastian said, "to see if there is a possibility of a meeting of the minds." 

    In a more notorious case, the state paid $825,000 to end a civil lawsuit brought by the family of inmate Preston Tate, killed by a guard in 1994. That case also spurred a criminal trial for eight Corcoran guards who were acquitted by a federal court jury in Fresno. 

    In yet another wrongful-death case concluded in October, the family of James Kevin Mahoney Jr., who was beaten to death by another inmate on a Corcoran exercise yard in 1999, accepted a $525,000 settlement offer from the state. 

    The reporter can be reached 

    at jbier@fresnobee.com  or 441-6484. 

    © 2002 , The Fresno Bee 



    Acquitted guards now face civil suit 

    Three of four Corcoran officers named in lawsuit over inmate's rape. 

    By Jerry Bier And Lewis Griswold 
    The Fresno Bee 

    (Published November 10, 1999) 

    The legal problems aren't over for three of the four Corcoran State Prison guards who were acquitted this week of criminal charges involving the rape of inmate Eddie Dillard. 

    Dillard's 5-year-old civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fresno is still alive. 

    In it, the former Corcoran inmate raises the same allegations that a Kings County Superior Court jury acquitted the correctional officers of Monday in Hanford. 

    And while the acquitted guards hailed the verdict as vindication for themselves and the beleaguered maximum-security prison, the civil lawsuit remains, as does a federal criminal prosecution against eight other correctional officers accused of staging inmate fights for sport. 

    Sgts. Robert Decker, 41, and Dale Brakebill, 34, and officers Anthony Sylva, 36, and Joe Sanchez, 38, were found innocent Monday by a jury, which deliberated over parts of three days. 

    The four correctional officers, who have been on paid administrative leave, can now go back to work. 

    "The problem these guys now have is the notoriety, the not-guilty verdicts notwithstanding. Inmates heard about these things, and you become a target," said Curtis Sisk, the lawyer for Decker. "You don't know what gang member wants to make a name for themselves." 

    The jury foreman said its members had "gone over everything" and reviewed all the documents presented and in the end concluded there was "just too much reasonable doubt" to convict the officers. 

    "There just wasn't enough evidence that supported what prosecutor was trying to prove," said the foreman, who declined to give his name. 

    Brakebill called the verdict a vindication for the guards, the prison and the state Department of Corrections. 

    However, all of the guards but Brakebill are defendants in the civil lawsuit, which also names Kathy M. Horton, a medical technical assistant at the prison who examined Dillard after his alleged sexual attack by inmate Wayne Robertson. 

    In his civil suit, Dillard, who is out of prison and living in Los Angeles, said he was placed in Robertson's cell soon after he was transferred from Calipatria State Prison, despite his protests that the two were enemies. 

    Dillard had accepted an unpublished amount of money to settle the civil suit, according to the case file in federal court, then apparently changed his mind. 

    Kenneth D. Ogrin, a Sherman Oaks lawyer representing Dillard in the civil case, did not return telephone calls Tuesday, nor did lawyers for the guards and Horton. 

    The suit states that Dillard, 29, is a sickle cell anemia victim who suffers daily from varying complications associated with the disease, including physical weakness and frequent kidney problems. 

    "The fact that Dillard weighs a little more than 129 pounds, is well under 6 feet tall, sickly and physically weak, establishes that he is at severe risk of physical injury in a level-4 prison wherein 97% of all prisoners are far bigger, stronger, healthier and meaner, " the suit states. 

    The officers, according to the suit, have a propensity, while purporting to act under color of law, "for brutality, bigotry, dishonesty, deception, abuse of authority, harassment, false arrest, excessive, unnecessary and unreasonable force and violence" against people in their custody and are "wholly unfit to serve as sworn peace officers." 

    The national media spotlight focused intently on Corcoran's problems with the shooting death of inmate Preston Tate more than five years ago. 

    Tate's death prompted a federal grand jury inquiry that concluded last year with the indictment of eight guards on charges they had staged inmate fights at Corcoran for blood sport. 

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan B. Conklin, who is prosecuting the federal case, could not be reached to comment. 

    Four of those guards in the federal case are charged in the death of Tate, who was shot during an inmate fight in the Security Housing Unit on April 2, 1994. 

    Tate's parents sued in Fresno's federal court and won an $825,000 settlement. 

    Tate's death, probably more than any other incident, focused national attention on what could be California's most troubled prison. 

    Other problems with inmate abuse and reprisals against whistle-blowers have come to public attention in recent years. 

    Recently, a former prison doctor filed a lawsuit against the prison, charging that the administration fired him after he complained about abusive treatment of inmates who were made to stand on hot concrete as punishment. Inmates sustained third-degree burns on their heels, said Dr. Jack Wilkinson. 

    In June, the corrections department agreed to pay former guard Richard Caruso $1.7 million, halt any disciplinary actions and remove a negative mark on his personnel records. Caruso had sued the department, claiming he was forced out of his job after he alerted federal authorities to institutional cover-ups of inmate abuse at Corcoran. 


    Acquitted guards now face civil suit 

    Three of four Corcoran officers named in lawsuit over inmate's rape. 

    By Jerry Bier And Lewis Griswold 
    The Fresno Bee 

    (Published November 10, 1999) 
    The legal problems aren't over for three of the four Corcoran State Prison guards who were acquitted this week of criminal charges involving the rape of inmate Eddie Dillard. 

    Dillard's 5-year-old civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fresno is still alive. 

    In it, the former Corcoran inmate raises the same allegations that a Kings County Superior Court jury acquitted the correctional officers of Monday in Hanford. 

    And while the acquitted guards hailed the verdict as vindication for themselves and the beleaguered maximum-security prison, the civil lawsuit remains, as does a federal criminal prosecution against eight other correctional officers accused of staging inmate fights for sport. 

    Sgts. Robert Decker, 41, and Dale Brakebill, 34, and officers Anthony Sylva, 36, and Joe Sanchez, 38, were found innocent Monday by a jury, which deliberated over parts of three days. 

    The four correctional officers, who have been on paid administrative leave, can now go back to work. 

    "The problem these guys now have is the notoriety, the not-guilty verdicts notwithstanding. Inmates heard about these things, and you become a target," said Curtis Sisk, the lawyer for Decker. "You don't know what gang member wants to make a name for themselves." 

    The jury foreman said its members had "gone over everything" and reviewed all the documents presented and in the end concluded there was "just too much reasonable doubt" to convict the officers. 

    "There just wasn't enough evidence that supported what prosecutor was trying to prove," said the foreman, who declined to give his name. 

    Brakebill called the verdict a vindication for the guards, the prison and the state Department of Corrections. 

    However, all of the guards but Brakebill are defendants in the civil lawsuit, which also names Kathy M. Horton, a medical technical assistant at the prison who examined Dillard after his alleged sexual attack by inmate Wayne Robertson. 

    In his civil suit, Dillard, who is out of prison and living in Los Angeles, said he was placed in Robertson's cell soon after he was transferred from Calipatria State Prison, despite his protests that the two were enemies. 

    Dillard had accepted an unpublished amount of money to settle the civil suit, according to the case file in federal court, then apparently changed his mind. 

    Kenneth D. Ogrin, a Sherman Oaks lawyer representing Dillard in the civil case, did not return telephone calls Tuesday, nor did lawyers for the guards and Horton. 

    The suit states that Dillard, 29, is a sickle cell anemia victim who suffers daily from varying complications associated with the disease, including physical weakness and frequent kidney problems. 

    "The fact that Dillard weighs a little more than 129 pounds, is well under 6 feet tall, sickly and physically weak, establishes that he is at severe risk of physical injury in a level-4 prison wherein 97% of all prisoners are far bigger, stronger, healthier and meaner, " the suit states. 

    The officers, according to the suit, have a propensity, while purporting to act under color of law, "for brutality, bigotry, dishonesty, deception, abuse of authority, harassment, false arrest, excessive, unnecessary and unreasonable force and violence" against people in their custody and are "wholly unfit to serve as sworn peace officers." 

    The national media spotlight focused intently on Corcoran's problems with the shooting death of inmate Preston Tate more than five years ago. 

    Tate's death prompted a federal grand jury inquiry that concluded last year with the indictment of eight guards on charges they had staged inmate fights at Corcoran for blood sport. 

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan B. Conklin, who is prosecuting the federal case, could not be reached to comment. 

    Four of those guards in the federal case are charged in the death of Tate, who was shot during an inmate fight in the Security Housing Unit on April 2, 1994. 

    Tate's parents sued in Fresno's federal court and won an $825,000 settlement. 

    Tate's death, probably more than any other incident, focused national attention on what could be California's most troubled prison. 

    Other problems with inmate abuse and reprisals against whistle-blowers have come to public attention in recent years. 

    Recently, a former prison doctor filed a lawsuit against the prison, charging that the administration fired him after he complained about abusive treatment of inmates who were made to stand on hot concrete as punishment. Inmates sustained third-degree burns on their heels, said Dr. Jack Wilkinson. 

    In June, the corrections department agreed to pay former guard Richard Caruso $1.7 million, halt any disciplinary actions and remove a negative mark on his personnel records. Caruso had sued the department, claiming he was forced out of his job after he alerted federal authorities to institutional cover-ups of inmate abuse at Corcoran. 


    Corcoran guards acquitted 

    By Lesli A. Maxwell 
    The Fresno Bee 

    (Published November 8, 1999) 
    HANFORD - A Kings County jury acquitted this afternoon four Corcoran State Prison correctional officers of charges that they aided and abetted the rape of an inmate by placing him in a cell with another inmate who was a known sexual predator. 

    After a six-week trial in Kings County Superior Court, the 12-member jury found Sgts. Robert Allan Decker, 41, Dale Shawn Brakebill, 34, and officers Anthony Sylva, 36, and Joe Sanchez, 38, not guilty of setting up the 1993 rape of inmate Eddie Dillard. The jury reached its verdict before the end of its third day of deliberations. 

    'I am vindicated,' said a jubilant Brakebill outside the courthouse with his wife Carole and his parents by his side. 'Mr. Decker, Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Sylva are vindicated. The entire Department of Corrections is vindicated, and so is Corcoran State Prison. 

    'I've put my career on hold for more than a year because of allegations of two inmates and a disgruntled former employee. Now I will vindicate myself by going back to work.' 

    Brakebill and his colleagues were indicted by a Kings County grand jury last year, four years after former Corcoran inmate Eddie Dillard alleged the four guards had purposefully placed him in a cell with Wayne 'Booty Bandit' Robertson in retaliation for assaulting a female guard while he was at Tehachapi State Prison. The alleged rape occurred over two days at the Security Housing Unit at Corcoran, where inmates who attack guards and commit other prison violations are sent for punishment. 

    Dillard and Robertson were both star witnesses for the prosecution. 

    The jury foreman, who did not give his name, said the jury 'just kept coming up with a whole lot of doubt.' 

    The state Attorney General's office, which prosecuted the four guards, expressed its disappointment in today's verdict. 

    'This was a difficult case,' said State Deputy Attorney General Vernon Pierson. 'If your best witnesses are convicted felons who don't want to get involved in the first place, it makes it tough. But we wouldn't have brought this case if we didn't have an abiding conviction that these were guilty defendants.' 

    Despite the four acquittals, Pierson called the case a 'significant accomplishment' because the state was able to investigate a four-year-old case and bring it to trial. 

    'In the California Department of Corrections today, if there is misconduct, it will be investigated,'' Pierson said. 'That wasn't the case a few years ago.' 



    State will pay guards' legal expenses in prison rape lawsuit 

    By DON THOMPSON Associated Press Writer 
    Published 4:15 p.m. PST Thursday, Dec. 13, 2001 

    SACRAMENTO (AP) - The California Department of Corrections said Thursday it will pay for the legal defense of three current correctional officers and one former employee accused in a pending federal civil rights lawsuit.The guards are accused of setting up the rape of inmate Eddie Dillard by leaving him in the cell of a known sexual predator, Wayne Robertson.The decision means the state would pay any compensatory damages from the federal suit, said Dillard's attorney, Robert L. Bastian Jr., though the four may be personally liable for any punitive damages.The agreement comes after a state court in Hanford ruled the department is legally required to defend the Corcoran State Prison guards. 

    The state is dropping its appeal, which had been set for a hearing later this month.The 118-pound Dillard alleges he was repeatedly raped over two days in March 1993 by Robertson, a 6-3, 230-pound convicted murderer known as the "Booty Bandit."However, a Kings County Superior Court jury acquitted four guards in 1999 of aiding and abetting sodomy in concert. Three of the four guards - Robert Allan Decker, Joe Sanchez and Anthony J. Sylva - and a fourth former employee, Kathy HHorton-Plant, are named in the federal civil rights lawsuit awaiting a January 8 hearing in U.S. District Court in Fresno.The suit is expected to go to trial next spring. 



    Jury still deliberating in prison rape trial 

    Saturday, November 6, 1999 

    (11-06) 00:55 EST 
    HANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Jurors will resume deliberations Monday in the trial of four Corcoran State Prison guards accused of setting up an inmate to be raped by his cell mate. 

    The jury deliberated all day Friday, and at the end of the day asked Kings County Superior Court Judge Louis F. Bissig to clarify the definition of the word ``perpetrator.'' 

    Bissig said he would respond to the jury's question on Monday. 

    Prosecutors say the guards set up the rapes of Eddie Dillard over three days in March 1993 to punish him for kicking a female guard at another prison and to ``teach him how to do his time.'' 

    Sgts. Robert Decker, 41, and Dale Brakebill, 34, and officers Anthony Sylva, 36, and Joe Sanchez, 38, are charged with aiding and abetting sodomy. They face up to nine years in prison if convicted. 


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