September 16, 2020
The US government has reached a $750,000 settlement with a gay prisoner, who was allegedly beaten and raped after being forced to share his cell with a man who had threatened him.
It was early August 2014. Alec Arapahoe had been sentenced to nine months in prison after pleading guilty to transporting a stolen car across state lines. He told his stepmother that other Native American inmates were threatening him because of his sexual orientation.
He had specifically named another inmate, William Mexican.
Alec’s stepmother, upon hearing this had called the prison facility where he was incarcerated to relay a message.
The officials investigated her claims and interviewed Arapahoe as well. Alec told them that Mexican and other Native American inmates had voted him off the yard for being gay.
However, officials said they found “no verifiable threat”.
In a federal court complaint, Arapahoe alleged that two months after he filed the complaint, the prisoner responsible for the threats was transferred into his cell.
Furthermore, the two were left unsupervised for more than two days. During this period, Arapahoe said, he was brutally beaten and raped.
Mexican said he had heard Arapahoe was gay, and he demanded Arapahoe give him money. He also threatened to assault and rape Arapahoe. In early August, Mexican told Arapahoe to leave the prison yard or he would be beaten.
The brutal beating and multiple rapes that ensued afterwards form the basis of the complaint he filed against 29 prison officials shared Arapahoe.
The ordeal only ended when officers finally transferred Arapahoe, who had injuries to his face and body, to another cell. He was later taken to receive medical treatment.
10 years of prison
William Mexican was sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison after admitting an assault charge over the incident. However, although prison medical records state that Arapahoe] was raped, Mexican was not convicted on a rape charge.
The federal government has now agreed to pay $750,000 under a settlement agreement.
An investigation was held by the special investigative agent’s office at the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It was found that 28 guards and other prison officers had committed departmental offences.
Nineteen prison officers were found to have been inattentive to duty. Another six were found to have falsified documents noting that rounds been completed when they had not.
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons told The Washington: “BOP is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all inmates in our population, our staff, and the public.
“Allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and appropriate action is taken if such allegations are proven true.”
Arapahoe’s lawyer believes some of the guards should be charged criminally.
“They all signed logs saying they did rounds,” Lane said. “And some lied to people in the inspector general’s office that was doing the investigation. That is the crime — lying to a federal investigator.”