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Kolbe May Appeal Court Ruling on Inmate’s Rape

Kolbe May Appeal Court Ruling on Inmate’s Rape
January 10
11:07 2020

Kolbe May Appeal Court Ruling on Inmate’s Rape

The Kolbe Foundation is awaiting the advice of their attorneys regarding the Supreme Court ruling on Monday, January 6, which holds them liable in a civil suit brought by a former inmate who accused the prison of negligence, alleging he was raped twice by his cellmate, 43-year-old Kenroy Cooke, in 2017.
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Kolbe’s director Virgilio Murillo says the prison has not
yet thrown in the towel in their fight against the civil action, as
their attorneys are still reviewing all details of the testimony and
other evidence presented, to see if they have grounds for appeal.
The Foundation has three weeks to lodge notice of an appeal.

Cooke has been charged with two counts of an unnatural crime for the attacks, and in the civil suit, Justice Shona Griffith found in favor of the plaintiff, who claimed the prison authorities were negligent when they failed to protect him from the attacks. While there was no physical evidence of the first rape other than the victim’s account, Justice Griffith declared that she believed the victim’s account of what happened. She did not find fault with the prison for the first rape, but she found that the prison officer represented the prison authorities, who could have separated the two prisoners, as a precaution to prevent a repeat attack. His failure to report the first complaint constituted his negligence, and by extension, the authorities’ as well.

The victim was 20 years old when the alleged assaults happened. He claims he awoke at 1am on November 25, 2017, to find he was being choked by his cellmate behind him, and he lost consciousness. When he awoke later, his body was wracked with pain, and he concluded he had been raped.

To his dismay, he got no relief when he reported the assault to the prison officer who was on duty, ignoring his cell-mate’s threats to beat him up if he told anyone about the attack. The officer completely ignored his complaint, and he had no one else to turn to for relief; as he was in the lockdown area of the prison at the time of the attack. He further testified that his cellmate, unrestrained by the authorities, attacked him again as he slept four days later, and beat him unconscious before raping him a second time.

The second attack did not escape the attention of the prison guards nearby, who came to his aid; and a doctor later certified that he had been raped.

The victim held the prison authorities at fault, because he was on remand awaiting trial, and according to the prison rules, on the assumption of innocence until proven guilty, he ought not have been confined with someone who was already convicted of a crime and serving a sentence. He felt the prison authorities ought to have protected him from such hardened criminals, and he held the prison authorities negligent in this regard.

The ruling sets a significant precedent in that the prison can now be held liable for the sexual assault of an inmate by other prisoners. Whatever the facts, the public views sexual assault as a very real threat for anyone who ends up behind bars. Now prison will be taxed to be more vigilant to prevent such assaults, as the victim(s) will recourse to the courts.

The judgement awarded the victim costs, which means the authorities must pay the victims’ legal fees for his attorney. Griffith has yet to assess damages, and has given attorney Anthony Sylvestre several weeks to file affidavits as to how the assaults have negatively impacted his client.

Sylvester said he hoped the Government may offer “a just and reasonable settlement,” and so spare his client the ordeal of having to relive this “agonizing and terrifying experience” in court, if a second hearing is required for assessment of damages.

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