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Two inmates allege a former Alaska prison guard sexually abused them

(KTUU)
Published: Dec. 5, 2019 at 6:36 PM AKST
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Two inmates at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center have filed a civil lawsuit against a prison guard, alleging that he sexually abused them over a period of months.

The suit was filed in Anchorage Superior Court on Wednesday and details allegations that the former guard Jimmie Weeks abused the two inmates who are identified only as Jane Does 1 and 2.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case. The attorney representing the two women says the incidents have been reported to the state Departments of Corrections and Law.

The list of complaints brought forward by the two women in the lawsuit is long, including that Weeks asked them to show him their genitals and that he participated in improper touching, sexual harassment and penetrated them with his fingers.

Weeks is also said to have wanted the two women to engage in “a dominance and submission relationship with him where they were the subs.” He allegedly had Jane Doe 1 sign a power of attorney stating: “I’ll be your slave, you will be my master.”

The 20-year DOC employee is alleged to have given favorable treatment to the two women over the period of the relationships that are said to have spanned over the course of months throughout 2019.

Sarah Gallagher, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections, says that the agency cannot comment on ongoing litigation. She confirmed that Weeks is no longer a DOC employee as of September 16, but citing an Alaska Statute on keeping personnel matters confidential, Gallagher wrote that the agency could not say why.

“The Department of Corrections has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct and has procedures in place for a thorough, prompt and objective investigation of all allegations,” Gallagher wrote, quoting DOC policy. She said that she could not confirm or deny if an investigation is ongoing into the allegation by the two inmates, as that is confidential.

According to the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), sex between an employee at a corrections facility and an inmate is unprofessional, unethical and also illegal. Alaska law also makes sex between a guard and an inmate a class C felony; sexual contact with an inmate is a class A misdemeanor.

Weeks’ alleged relationships with the two women are described in the lawsuit as having a profound power imbalance.

“Inmates at Hiland cannot legally consent to sexual activity with a guard,” reads the complaint, describing that the power imbalance between guards and inmates means that sexual relationships “are the products of sexual exploitation.”

The lawsuit, filed by law firm Barber and Associates, names the State of Alaska, the Corrections Department and Weeks himself as defendants. The Corrections Department is accused of negligence in not identifying red flags that an inappropriate relationship was allegedly taking place.

The suit also alleges that "negligent training and/or supervision was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiffs.”

Jeff Barber, who specializes in civil law, is the lead attorney in the case. He says the two women brought the complaint forward from Hiland Mountain Correctional Center. He found the allegations credible as both women had similar stories and could corroborate each others' claims.

Barber says that it appears the alleged relationships with Weeks were known to other inmates and a third inmate was able to corroborate the claims of Jane Does 1 and 2.

“We’ve heard there were notes written between the guard and one of the inmates and the DOC would have that,” he said. “That was one of the reasons why we filed this lawsuit, it would allow us to receive evidence that they have, like the notes.”

Barber says the case hinges on the Eighth Amendment, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment.

“One of the things the Eighth Amendment embodies is ideas of human dignity, humanity, decency,” he said, before going on to describe that sexual acts between a prison guard and an inmate violate those rights.

The suit calls for $100,000 or more in financial relief.

KTUU reached out to Weeks multiple times Wednesday and Thursday and did not receive a response.

Copyright 2019 KTUU. All Rights Reserved.

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