LIHUE — A female inmate is suing the Kauai Community Correctional Center warden on grounds that a prison warden sexually shamed her and other female inmates while she was incarcerated.
Alexandria Gregg filed suit Jan. 31 against Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety, its director Ted Sakai, and Kauai Community Correctional Center Warden Neal Wagatsuma, according to a copy of the complaint.
Gregg was incarcerated at the facility at various periods from March to November 2011.
The suit states that female prisoners were “harassed and sexually humiliated” at the facility, as well as unfairly discriminated against based on gender and “subjected to a pattern of sexual psychological humiliation, invasion of privacy and psychological violence.”
“During open public meetings of male and female detainees in front of KCCC staff members, defendant Wagatsuma repeatedly forced plaintiff and other class members to stand at a podium and speak about their private, intimate and traumatizing sexual experience,” the complaint states. “Wagatsuma asked plaintiff what kind of drugs she used, whether she had sex while on drugs, and how many partners plaintiff previously had sex relations with.”
It claims that the warden ordered Gregg to elaborate on previous incidents of rape as well as sexual preferences. The public questionings were videotaped by male detainees, the suit states, while Gregg and other alleged victims were instructed to stand at the podium during the “public shamings.”
“Defendant Wagatsuma would often film these public sexual shamings. Typically, the detainees selected for filming were young attractive women,” the complaint reads.
At one point, a male detainee asked Gregg questions about whether she enjoyed certain sexual acts, which the warden did nothing to stop, the suit claims.
Gregg is represented by Margery Bronster of Bronster Hoshibata in Honolulu.
“Essentially, what was going on with respect to the female inmates constituted inappropriate sexual and physiological harassment and shouldn’t have been allowed to continue,” Bronster said. “There are many aspects of KCCC that are well intended but these actions were inappropriate and the programs went well over the line.”
The complaint seeks class certification, declaratory judgment, an injunction and punitive damages for cruel and unusual punishment, sexual abuse and other constitutional violations, among others, through a jury trial.
The 29-page complaint lists several accusations in detail.
It states that KCCC employees didn’t act on detainee complaints out of fear of retribution from the warden.
Messages left at KCCC in Wailua were referred to the Department of Public Safety.
Toni Schwartz, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman, said the state hadn’t been served with the complaint as of Thursday and couldn’t comment.
The department doesn’t comment on pending litigation in general, she added, even after it is served.
The suit states that Gregg was released for three months and was sent back to KCCC while she was pregnant and gave birth while incarcerated there. Gregg claims the warden then targeted her again because he didn’t like the father of the child.