Inmate sues over alleged sexual assault


POSTED: Saturday, October 17, 2009

A female Hawaii inmate filed a lawsuit yesterday against the state of Hawaii and a corporation that runs a Kentucky prison where she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a prison guard.

Pania Kalama filed a complaint in Circuit Court in Honolulu, suing the state and Corrections Corporations of America Inc., which owns and operates Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., along with their unnamed employees.

Kalama alleged that while incarcerated at Otter Creek, she was sexually assaulted June 13 by Charlie Prater, who was then employed as a corrections officer at the prison.

The complaint alleges the state had notice of the sexual assault and other wrongful conduct by Corrections Corporations of America's employees but did not take reasonable steps to ensure her safety.

The complaint also said sexual assault and other improper behavior should have been known to state and prison officials, but they failed to take reasonable actions to ensure her safety and the safety of other inmates.

Kalama alleges the state failed in its duty to her to ensure her safety by properly monitoring Otter Creek to make certain Corrections Corporations of America complied with the terms of its agreement with the state.

Prater was indicted Sept. 1 in Kentucky on charges of first-degree rape for the sexual assault.

The past two months, 168 Hawaii inmates were returned to Oahu after allegations of sexual assaults by the staff on 23 women.