Oregon Trial Advocate

Personal Injury Law & Politics

Latino Construction Worker Fatality Rates Rise While Others Decline

Posted in You Ought To Know

The number of Latino construction workers, as a percentage of the construction work force, has been on the rise over the last 4 years. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 2010 the number of construction workers that identified themselves as Latino or Hispanic was 24% of the independent construction workforce. By 2014, that number was roughly 27%. Concurrent with this rise in the construction workforce has been a rise in fatality rates for Latino workers, from 23% of construction fatalities in 2010, to 29% in 2013 (2014 statistics are not yet available). What is troubling is that inversely to the rise of Latino worker’s fatality rates, the percentage of non-Latino worker’s fatality rates has dropped significantly. This means that as a percentage of the workforce, the fatality rates have doubled for Latino workers in comparison to the rise of the Latino worker’s population.



According to Jorge Perez, the director of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association, (HACIA) there are numerous reasons for the increase in Latino workers construction fatalities. The primary reason that Perez points to is a lack of safety awareness by workers and contractors. Lack of safety training, coupled with a lack of available training for construction workers in their native Spanish language, are important factors that can lead to fatal accidents in the workplace, according to Perez.

Who regulates the safety and training standards for construction sites? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). But OSHA appears to be severely undermanned to monitor every construction site. A report from the American Federation or Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) found that OSHA employs nearly 2,000 inspectors who are responsible for 8 million work sites under their jurisdiction. This means that each inspector is responsible for the health and safety standards of about 4,000 worksites.

Furthermore, the penalties that OSHA issues to contractors who fall below the industry standard for safety and training are miniscule. The AFL-CIO report detailed that the average penalty for workplace fatality cases was $6,100 by state OSHA inspectors, and $5,600 by federal OSHA inspectors. In criminal cases, where the penalties rendered include fines and possible prison time for “willful violations” that resulted in worker death, only 84 cases have been prosecuted since 1970, and defendants served only 89 total months in prison.

Our firm, Kafoury and McDougal, with the assistance of co-counsel Lourdes Sanchez, won $6.2 million for an Hispanic agricultural worker, Zeferino Vasquez, for a workplace accident that left him paralyzed. The 21-year-old Vasques was hurt during his shift for OR/PAC Feed and Storage where he made $9.15 an hour. The injury occurred while Vasquez was in operation of a hay bale slicer that was manufactured by Double Press Inc. who was the defendant in the lawsuit.

The jury found that the manufacturer was 60% responsible for Vasquez’s injuries. A lack of safety standards and training, including lack of safety training in Spanish for the mostly Hispanic workforce, was used as evidence against Double Press Inc. Double Press did not keep records of the injuries caused by their equipment and had not even reviewed OSHA regulations concerning their equipment.

After the verdict was rendered, Vasquez’s attorney Greg Kafoury pointed out that many of these types of agricultural accidents against Hispanic workers go undocumented or are not reported.

“These guys don’t have unions,” Kafoury said. “They are incredibly vulnerable. A lot of them have immigration issues, so they really are at the mercy of the machine makers and the employers… If you had this kind of injury pattern with white college kids working summer jobs, this industry would have been cleaned up in a heartbeat.”

UPDATE: Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore touched on the above statistics during the telecast on Tuesday, May 5th 2014. Check out the video of the segment from Comdey Central’s website here

Information for this blog was obtained using www.hispanictrending.net

Read Aimee Green’s article on the Vasquez verdict here



medicalsexabuse.com website launches

Posted in Sexual Abuse, You Ought To Know

Kafoury and McDougal is pleased to announce the launch of our new website medicalsexabuse.com. Our firm has successfully litigated some of the highest profile cases involving sexual abuse within the medical field. During these cases, we have found it can be extremely difficult for victims to come forward and challenge their sexual abusers. We offer this site as a resource for those who have been victimized, and to show that medical sex abuse is a serious, nationwide problem.

In our experience handling these types of cases, sexual predators have abused patients under the guise of a “necessary” medical exam in completely unnecessary situations. Many patients that feel they have been victimized by medical professionals either do not know their rights, are too afraid to come forward, or do not think that they will be believed. Medicalsexabuse.com offers local and national resources for patients in all 50 states who feel they have been victimized, but are unsure how to move forward. Our website lists helplines, trauma centers and counseling options for victims and those close to victims of sexual abuse.

Another resource of our website is a catalogue of doctors and medical professionals who have been charged, prosecuted or had their license suspended or revoked. We intend to give victims hope that coming forward will lead to criminal prosecutions and protect future patients.

Upon researching this topic over the last few years, we have found over a hundred sexual predators who were operating out of medical offices that have been arrested and charged with serious crimes. We hope this website will lead to more victims standing up to their abusers, which will greatly assist law enforcement officers in building their cases against sexual predators in the medical field.

Our site also offers an FAQ and Legal Rights section for people who seek answers to legal questions. We also offer a Contact Us form for people who would like to speak confidentially to any of our lawyers about any incident that happened to themselves, a friend or family member, or to report other instances of abuse that we should add to our online database.

Challenging one’s abuser is the first step towards recovery, and we want people to know that help is not far away.

The Oregon Clinic refuses to order staff to cooperate with sex abuse detectives

Posted in K&M in the News, Sexual Abuse

On March 10, 2015, our firm, Kafoury & McDougal, filed a sex abuse lawsuit against The Oregon Clinic.

In May last year, The Oregon Clinic, one of Oregon’s largest medical providers, was notified by police detectives that there was evidence than an unconscious patient had been sexually abused while sedated for a colonoscopy. Top officials at the clinic were aware that the patient was desperately anxious to learn what had been done to her, and who might have done it. A medical examination days after her procedure showed vaginal bruising and abrasions, both internal and external.

The detectives wanted to interview the members of the medical staff who had been in attendance during and after the procedure. But rather than insisting that their employees assist the police in this investigation, the clinic provided criminal lawyers to all those involved.

The attending physician was Jeffrey Weprin, who initially answered the questions of the investigating detective, primarily centered on the general procedures of the clinic. Attempts by the police to arrange a subsequent interview through his attorney were unsuccessful. Dr. Weprin’s medical staff, Scott Joliffe, Paul Still, and Norah Jensen, refused to be interviewed by the police.

The conduct of The Oregon Clinic in this case is virtually unheard of. Our firm, Kafoury & McDougal, has represented patients who have suffered abuse at the hands of medical providers against doctors, psychologists, medical clinics, ambulance companies, and hospitals throughout Oregon. We have represented medical sex abuse plaintiffs in California, and as far away as Missouri. We have never encountered a situation–nor have we even heard of a situation–where a professional medical organization arranged for its employees to remain silent in the face of an official investigation of predatory sexual abuse.


Aimee Green’s article on the pending lawsuit against The Oregon Clinic

Kafoury & McDougal victorious against AMR ambulance company 

Kafoury & McDougal victorious against Mid-Columbia Medical Center in the Dalles, OR


Shopping while Black: Institutionalized racism in “The Land of the Free”

Posted in False Arrest, K&M in the News, You Ought To Know

In August 2014, the popular New York luxury retailer Barneys settled a racial discrimination suit for $525,000. The suit claimed that the store falsely accused minority customers of credit card fraud and theft at a disproportionate rate compared to white shoppers. A CBS news article outlined the settlement, and the 9-month investigation that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and his office conducted into the accusations of racial discrimination.

According to the investigation by Schneiderman’s office, Barneys disproportionately stopped, and accused black and Latino shoppers of shoplifting and credit card fraud. According to a press release from Schneiderman’s office, store detectives leaned on sales associates about potential credit card fraud by minority shoppers so aggressively, that some associates would intentionally not engage with minority shoppers to avoid being badgered by loss-prevention employees. Even minority customers who were identified as “regulars” were followed and harassed by in-store detectives and loss-prevention.

Barneys was also found to “…not have comprehensive written policies regarding racial profiling; use of objective, race-neutral criteria for investigating potential shoplifting and/or credit card fraud; use of excessive force and handcuffs, or treatment of detainees.” Barneys was found to have maintained “inadequate” records of the stops that loss-prevention employees had made. But despite the lack of records, Barneys employees were still found to have detained a disproportionate number of black and Latino shoppers.

Under the terms of the settlement, Barneys will:

-Retain an independent anti-profiling consultant with expertise in the prevention of racial profiling in loss prevention and asset protection;

-Establish new recordkeeping requirements on investigations, detentions and false stops conducted by loss-prevention employees;

-Limit access to its closed-circuit TV areas by local law enforcement officers and maintain records of visits by local law enforcement officers;

-Adopt new loss-prevention detention policies and a new anti-profiling policy;

-Develop and conduct anti-profiling training for loss-prevention and sales employees;

-Investigate customer complaints of profiling; and

-Pay $525,000 in costs, fees, and penalties.

The story of Barneys’ discrimination is just one of many across the country. Institutionalized racism does not always show itself as blatantly as in this case. Minority shoppers are routinely subjected to dirty looks, snarky comments, being followed around stores, watched on surveillance videos and having their receipts checked at the door. But recently, Multnomah County jurors have found large companies like Walgreens and H&M liable for falsely accusing and detaining African American shoppers.

In cases that our firm Kafoury & McDougal recently handled, jurors awarded Teresa White and her son Deante Strickland, a starting point guard for the Central Catholic basketball team, $67,000 in their claims for false arrest against Walgreens in 2013. Jurors awarded Brenda Moaning $105,000 for her claim of false arrest against H&M in 2014. But many of the same problems that plagued Barneys in New York were at the heart of these recent Multnomah County cases: A lack of written comprehensive policies regarding racial profiling, and a lack of adequate record keeping to ensure shoplifting accusations were properly investigated, both internally and externally.

This week, our law firm, as chronicled in Aimee Green’s article for the Oregonian, filed 6 lawsuits accusing national chains Best Buy, Walgreens, Walmart, Ross Dress for Less, Hollister Company, and the company that owns the movie theater inside Lloyd Center, Cypress Equities Managed Services, L.P. of racially discriminating against and unlawfully detaining African American shoppers.

Jurors who award large monetary damages can help bring justice to victims of racial discrimination, and also send a loud message to large corporations that institutional racism will not be tolerated. Check back in the coming months to see updates on where these lawsuits end up.

President Obama proposes $75 million in federal spending in support of police body cameras; Paramilitary policing a real threat

Posted in Judicial Decisions & Your Rights, K&M in the News, You Ought To Know

President Barak Obama recently proposed a $263 million federal spending package, $75 million of which would be used to fund putting body cameras on 50,000 police officers around the country. The remaining funds would be used to expand police training and reform programs in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri police officer who fatally shot unarmed Michael Brown back on August 9th, 2014. The grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, has led to protests around the country.

With the chaos that followed the Michael Brown killing, local and state police used military grade armored vehicles and weapons to halt or disperse local demonstrations, even those that were peaceful. Police bureaus around the country have employed the use of similar military grade weapons, body armor and mine-resistant armored vehicles during demonstrations and legal, non-violent protests. After the Michael Brown shooting in August, Obama ordered a review of federal programs that supply state and local police agencies with military grade weapons and vehicles, amid growing concern for their use on citizens domestically.

After the review, Obama ordered that the federal programs who equip local law enforcement agencies must work together with local law enforcement and concerned civil liberties groups to recommend changes. Five federal agencies have been authorized by Congress to supply local law enforcement agencies with surplus military equipment and vehicles: The Department of Justice, Homeland Security, The Defense Department, the Treasury and the Office of National Drug Control.

According to a CBS News story, in the early 1990’s, surplus military grade weapons were supplied to local law enforcement to combat the drug trade in the U.S. In the early 2000’s, fears of domestic terrorism gave rise to an increase in both military gear and training for state and federal law enforcement agencies. Police officers and SWAT teams trained alongside soldiers to be sent to Afghanistan and Iraq to fight the war on terror. According to an ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) report, the amount of goods transferred through military surplus to local law enforcement agencies increased from $1 million in the early 1990’s, to over $450 million in 2013. One of the surplus military vehicles that has been supplied across the country is the MRAP vehicle (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected). This vehicle is designed to protect occupants from roadside mines and rocket/grenade attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq, 610 MRAP’s have been distributed to law enforcement agencies across the country, including at least 9 in Los Angeles County. All 610 of them were distributed after August of 2013.

Michael Downing, the LAPD Deputy Chief who also heads the department’s counterterrorism and special operations bureau, argues that police are dealing with “an adversary who is more sophisticated, more tactically trained.” He went on to support paramilitary policing by stating that, “In police work there are times we have to become soldiers and control through force and fear… But we have to come back to being a public servant as quick as we can to establish that normality and that ethical stature with communities, because they’re the ones who give us the authority to do our police work.”

Is this the type of military equipment we want our local police forces to have? Should local police bureaus have access to these kinds of weapons and equipment, to be used against American citizens? These questions require a healthy public debate about how we want our local police departments to enforce the law.



Download the ACLU’s PDF, “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Police” here

Read the CBS News story on Obama’s request for $75 million for police body cameras

Read the Oregonian story on Obama asking for federal support for body cameras on police officers, and the lack of executive support in disallowing military grade weapons and vehicles to be used by local law enforcement agencies.

Watch the video of Greg Kafoury discussing police body cameras on Koin 6 News.

Read the Oregon Progressive Party statement on the Ferguson, Missouri decision here

National support grows for body cameras on police officers

Posted in False Arrest, Judicial Decisions & Your Rights, Jury Verdicts, Political Corner, You Ought To Know

The time has come for the Portland City Council to approve the use of body video cameras on all Portland Police officers. The ineffectiveness of Portland Police review boards and internal affairs investigations have created a system where Portland Police officers can ignore their responsibilities as peacekeepers and civil servants. This allows officers to abuse citizens with no repercussions. Body cameras on officers may finally be the tool necessary to keep officers from assaulting tax-paying citizens, eliminating the he-said, she-said debate in which jurors give deference to police officers.

Since Kafoury & McDougal won the 2 largest jury verdicts ever against the City of Portland, and have reached the largest settlement with the City for police misconduct, all in the last two years, the subject of body video cameras on police officers has been moved to the forefront. Multnomah County juries hit the City for $562,000 for the Jason Cox case, $306,000 for the Gallagher Smith case and the City paid a $9.2 million settlement in the Cayla Wilson case. All of these cases shared a common theme:  Jurors had to decide between the word of the police against the word of the citizens involved, a problem that may no longer be a roadblock for lawsuits brought against the City if the Portland Police are required to use body cameras.

Police departments around the country have begun adopting policies requiring officers to wear body cameras, and the results have been encouraging. In Rialto, CA, the police department has seen a sharp decline in both complaints against officers, and use of force reports filed by officers. Since February 2012, complaints filed against officers have dropped 88%, while use of force reports have dropped almost 60%. In Portland, federal judge Michael Simon, in his adoption of the U.S. Department of Justice’s findings that call for police reform, wrote in favor of body cameras on Portland Police officers. Mayor Charlie Hales has also been outspoken about his support for body cameras on Portland Police officers. Read more on Mayor Hales’ opinion and judge Simon’s ruling here.

A thoughtful body camera program for Portland Police officers requires debate before implementation. Citizen’s civil liberties may be violated by the use of such cameras; invasions of privacy are a concern along with the possibility of police officers, administrators or others leaking the video content online or to news sources as a tactic to dissuade lawsuits against the police. Other questions that need to be addressed: Will police be able to turn their cameras on and off? Who will have access to the video content? How much storage space will be needed to store all the video content? And how secure will that information be? Will the public be allowed access to the video content? If so, how will that process work? All of these questions must be considered and debated before a policy can be implemented that requires officers to wear body cameras. Read more on the ACLU’s opinion on police body cameras here.

Update: Here’s a video interview I did with Colin O’Keefe of LXBN on the subject.

Kafoury & McDougal have the 2 highest jury awards and the largest settlement ever against the City of Portland for police misconduct

Posted in False Arrest, Jury Verdicts, K&M in the News

According to the City of Portland’s Risk Management Division and the reporting of the Oregonian’s Aimee Green, Kafoury & McDougal have won the two highest jury verdicts against the Portland Police ever awarded in the history of the City of Portland for Portland Police matters. K&M has also reached the largest settlement ever against the city. Below are articles,videos and a brief description of each case:

Aimee Green’s article in the Oregonian on this issue can be viewed here

Cayla Wilson – Settled case against the City of Portland and Clackamas County for $9.3 million.

Description: After a multi-week trial, attorneys for the City of Portland and Clackamas County reached a settlement agreement with Kafoury & McDougal, just moments after jurors entered the jury room to deliberate. The $9.3 million settlement is the largest settlement ever reached by the City for Portland Police matters.

Cayla Wilson and her unborn child were severely disabled after a driver, who was high on methamphetamine, crashed into Ms. Wilson head on. The diver, Jack Dean Whitaker, was on probation in Clackamas County but had been practically ignored by his probation officer for over 9 months, allowing him to continue getting high and walking the streets.

On the day of the crash, Portland Police officer Devonna Dick encountered Mr. Whitaker on two separate occasions,  hours apart, yet let him go both times despite knowing he had a truck at his disposal, that he had committed crimes on both occasions, and that he was on probation. Both encounters involved concerned citizens calling the police to report Mr. Whitaker’s strange and criminal behavior, yet officer Dick decided against taking action, leaving Mr. Whitaker who was high on Meth, with his truck, twice. Read more here

Jason Cox – A Multnomah County Jury awarded $562,000 against the City of Portland for the police beating of Mr. Cox, caught on video.

Description: Jason Cox was beaten by the Portland Police, who were unknowingly being recorded by a surveillance camera outside a local establishment. Mr. Cox was being arrested for a DUII, when he was suddenly pushed face-first to the ground, punched in the face 6-8 times, and tasered 4 times over a span of 30 seconds. The surveillance video shows Cox put his hands behind his back, when the Police, without any provocation, took Cox down and began beating him. Cox sued the City of Portland for the actions of officers Jeffrey Elias, Robert Bruders and Sarah Kerwin and a Multnomah County jury came back with the largest civil jury verdict ever awarded against the City for excessive force, thanks in large part to the surveillance video.

Read more on this verdict here

Click here to see the surveillance video for yourself.

Gallagher Smith – Jury awards Gallagher Smith $306,000 for false arrest and excessive force claim against the Portland Police.

Gallagher Smith was punched, tasered and pepper-sprayed by the Portland Police after he got in an argument with a doorman at a local nightclub. Smith had left the club and was walking away when police told him he had to vacate the sidewalk. Smith inquired as to why he had to leave a public sidewalk, when officers began arresting him. A struggle ensued and officer Patrick Johnson fired his taser at Mr, Smith. The taser probes did not stick so officer Sean McFarland shot Smith with his taser. Both took Mr. Smith to the ground and committed what a jury found to be assault and battery. A Multnomah County Jury found that Mr. Smith was falsely arrested, and that the police used excessive force to subdue him, awarding the second highest amount ever awarded against the City for police miscondict, $306,000.

Read more on the verdict here

NOTE: A recent article on Bloomberg.com reports that the city of New York paid over $735 million in settlements or awards from lawsuits over police misconduct, this year alone! Read more here.

Also, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart aired a funny parody on the lack of a national database for tracking police shootings. See the clip from Comedy Central’s website here.


Multnomah County jury finds Portland Police used excessive force during arrest, awards $562,000

Posted in Jury Verdicts, K&M in the News

Jason Cox’s mugshot after his encounter with the Portland Police

A Multnomah County jury awarded $562,000 to Jason Cox, a local iron worker who was beaten, including 6-8 blows to his head while being tasered 4 times, by the Portland Police during an arrest. The award is every penny the plaintiff asked for in the claim against the city.

On the night of the incident, Mr. Cox drove his 1969 Chevy truck into the parking lot of the Pallas club on 136th and Powell, when Portland Police officer Jeffrey Elias, who had followed Cox for about 10 blocks in his patrol car, jumped out of his car and confronted Cox about driving aggressively. Cox pointed to an SUV and speculated that the officer may have seen a different vehicle since his was old and slow. Officers Robert Bruders and Sarah Kerwin arrived on the scene moments later, and an argument ensued about whether or not Cox’s vehicle was the one in question.

Unbeknownst to the officers, the entire encounter was being recorded by a motion activated surveillance camera in the parking lot of the club, which can be viewed here.

The officers, after having Cox put his hands behind his back and patting him down, then decided to take Cox to the ground, where they yanked his arms, punched him in the face 6-8 times, and shocked him with a taser 4 times over the course of 30 seconds. Before the beating, Cox pleaded with officers to go easy on his left shoulder which had undergone surgery 1 year earlier, but officers appear to intentionally jerk and pull on his shoulder on the video, which multiple doctors agreed led to a posterior tear in his labrum. The tear caused Mr. Cox, 40, to retire from his iron and welding work that he had done prior to the incident, which payed him $33 an hour with benefits.

Furthermore, when a Paramedic arrived on scene, police were noticeably tight-lipped about the incident, and did not allow the EMT to finish their evaluation of Cox. The paramedic felt that the lack of explanation was strange and suspicious enough to write it up in their official incident report. Cox was charged with DUII, reckless driving, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He reached a plea deal, pleading guilty to DUII while the other charges were dropped. Even though his blood alcohol level was .078, below the legal limit of .08, Oregon is a zero tolerance state where a person can still be convicted even if they are below the legal limit.

The jury awarded $33,138 for medical expenses which included additional surgeries on Cox’s left shoulder, $128,991 for economic damages and $400,o00 for non-economic damages (pain and suffering). The large monetary award sends a clear message to the Portland Police Department and the City of Portland that excessive force and battery against our citizens is completely unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated. Mr. Cox and his attorneys Greg and Jason Kafoury have used this verdict as a springboard to promote mandatory body cameras on all Portland Police officers to help prevent future abuse.

For more on this story, check out the links below to see local media coverage of the trial and verdict.


Aimee Green’s story on the verdict – 09/29/2014

KGW 8 News coverage of the verdict – 09/29/2014

KOIN 6 News coverage of the verdict – 09/29/2014

KATU 2 News coverage of the verdict – 09/29/2014

KPTV 12 News coverage of the verdict – 09/29/2014

Green’s story during the trial  – 09/24/2014

America’s largest tax scam

Posted in You Ought To Know

American companies have found a new way to rid themselves of their corporate tax responsibilities, by purchasing foreign companies and “reincorporating” themselves abroad. These moves certainly hurt the U.S. economy as billions of dollars in taxes are avoided. While U.S. corporate profits have skyrocketed up $93 billion in 2013 to a total of $2.1 trillion, corporate tax payments were down $15 billion from the year before. Read more about this scandal in the August 27th, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone, here

Sex Abuse of Inmates: Silent Epidemic

Posted in Uncategorized

Allegations of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct against a Washington County jail employee are only the latest in a long series of cases involving the sex abuse of inmates by jail personnel.  Jill Curry, a civilian employee at the jail, faces felony charges, based on her arrest of July 16, 2014; the nature of the charge indicates that the alleged victim was in custody.

Prison Legal News reported in April of 2014 that Eddie Miller, 60, was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct and received only two years probation in a case where he forced a 34-year-old female prisoner to perform oral sex on him.  After Miller was placed on leave, a former coworker filed suit against Multnomah County, alleging that she had made previous complaints of sexual harassment against Miller, and that she had on numerous occasions told her supervisor about Miller’s conduct, but that she had been ignored.  Her lawsuit alleged that when she filed a written sex harassment complaint, her supervisors destroyed it.

An Oregonian article in April 29, 2012, by Les Zaitz described a virtual epidemic of sexual abuse of female inmates by prison employees.  The article reported that “illegal conduct traces to 2002” and the state had during that time paid a total of $1.2 million in compensation to 17 inmates and former inmates.  More remarkably, these sums had been paid “without a word to the public.”  Brian Lathan, a Salem attorney who represented many of the victims, described the situation as “an epidemic.”  The pattern of suppressing information also involves placing victims in segregation, commonly known as “the hole, ” designed “to protect, not punish” the victims.  Further, Oregon State Police detectives rattled and intimidated the victims by reading them Miranda rights, as if it was their conduct which was at issue.

John Kroger, who was Oregon’s Attorney General at the time, “rejected repeated requests for an interview” by the Oregonian.

However, the problem stretches beyond Oregon. Prisons and jails across the country have had trouble with their employees in recent years. John Bernard Bland Jr., a former guard at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, engaged in oral sex with an inmate in exchange for preference in cell assignment. He pled guilty on one count of carnal knowledge of an inmate after two other counts were dropped. In Hernando County, Florida Dr. James A. Yelton, a psychologist employed by the Corrections Corporation of America, routinely abused four female inmates over the course of nearly a year. Yelton asked the women to expose themselves as well as give him a kiss or a lap dance. He also stated he was willing to exchange medication for sex. Once he even pinned a woman against a wall and molested her. When the women came forward about their abuse, Yelton only received a few restrictions on his medical license. Sadly, these are but a few examples of the abuses occurring throughout the nation.

The sexual abuse of an inmate has recently been upgraded to a felony by the Oregon state legislature.  The great evil of the abuse is the imbalance of power between the prison employees and the inmates.  Prison culture discourages “snitching,” even when the report is of official misconduct.  Prisoners are largely at the mercy of employees because employees can report any manner of misconduct against an inmate, and their word is routinely accepted over the word of an inmate.

Prison sex is also a security threat, because such elicit relations often lead to the smuggling of drugs or weapons by prison employees, whose conduct makes them vulnerable to blackmail.


Update (8/20/14): A second Washington County jail worker has been charged with committing sexual misconduct with an inmate. Brett Robinson, 32, turned herself in after a grand jury indicted her on 6 felony counts of first-degree sexual misconduct and 6 misdemeanor counts of first-degree official misconduct. The arrest comes just months after Jill Curry was arrested and similarly charged for having sex with an inmate. The two women are charged with having sexual relations with the same inmate.