Over 750 People to Sue Department of Corrections – NBC New York

Formerly incarcerated women gathered outside the courthouse in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday to recount the horrors of sexual abuse they say they endured during their time in New York state prisons.

Mia Wheeler, a former inmate at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, the largest women’s prison in the state, says she was raped numerous times on numerous occasions by a corrective officer. Supported by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, two other survivors told the — – but there are hundreds of other women with similar traumas. Over 750 of them are filing a series of lawsuits alleging they were sexually assaulted under the custody of the New York State Department of Correctional Services.

Wheeler said that her alleged abuser threatened her and told her she would “reap the repercussions” if she told anyone.

“I felt isolated and alone. After violations, after violations, I’m here with my sisters who share a painful bond,” Wheeler said as she held back tears. “But I ask that we be silent no more. There are too many victims who have fallen victims to rape and sexual assault that have fallen on deaf ears. Please, Department of Corrections, I implore you, change.”

Some of the allegations date back decades, including Jacquline Wiggins’ who was an inmate at the Bayview Correctional Facilities in the 1990s. Many of the cases come from the medium-security women’s prison located in Manhattan but they are overlapping claims from all across the state , including at Albion, Rikers Island, Taconic and Groveland.

“I would like to see those officers brought up on charges and that this never again happens to any other woman prison,” Wiggins said.

The statute of limitations is long past for many of these victims but thanks to a new state law, the Adult Survivors Actvictims of sex crimes have a one-year window to file old claims.

“We now will be able to Identify those perpetrators who abused countless women for years and many of them may still be in these corrections facilities,” said State Senator Brad Holyman who co-authored the bill.

Crump and his team plan to build their case on a federal report from 1985 about Bayview Correctional which referenced rapes in the facility and recommended what should be done.

In a statement, a Department of Correction representative told NBC New York that it doesn’t comment on possible or pending litigation, adding that the “DOCCS has zero tolerance for sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and unauthorized relationships.”

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