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Teacher sues for millions after being raped in prison classroom

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April V. Taylor

An Arizona teacher, who was left alone in a prison classroom while administering a high school equivalency test and was subsequently raped by an inmate, has filed a $4 million lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections according to News One.  The lawsuit states that the Department of Corrections “failed miserably” in fulfilling its duty of keeping employees safe.  The suit also claims that the unit where the rape occurred was understaffed, not monitored adequately enough, and that the department failed to provide necessary equipment for staff to be able to defend themselves and call for help in the event of an emergency.

Scott Zwillinger, the teacher’s attorney, states in an interview, “This is just outlandishly egregious, it’s just jaw-dropping.”  Regarding his client, Zwillinger states she, “has struggled not only with physical pain from the stabbing and rape but traumatic emotional distress that she struggles with each and every day.”  He notes that she will suffer from this emotional trauma for the rest of her life.

Regarding the attack, he states that he believes that his client will win a judgement of $10 million or more if the case goes to trial due to, “the sheer absurdity of permitting a violent rapist to be left alone with a woman in an unguarded classroom.”  He goes on to state, “The folks who work in the prisons have probably one of the most dangerous jobs that people can have…But they still have a right to be safe, and to know that when they go to work in the morning they’re going to be home with their families.  That has to be addressed, it has to be talked about, it has to be corrected.”

Zwillinger is also accusing the prison system of committing civil rights violations in its failure to protect employees.  The teacher filed a workers compensation claim.  This normally prevents an employee from filing any litigation, but Zwillinger believes his client is entitled to sue because of “extreme recklessness” and civil rights violations.

The assault occurred at Eyman state prison, located southeast of Phoenix.  The prison holds around 1,300 rαpists, child mοlesters, and other sëx offenders.  She was left with only a radio to be able to summon help.

The teacher was stαbbed and sëxually assaulted by convicted rαpist Jacob Harvey.  Harvey asked her to open the bathroom and then αttαcked her by stαbbing her in the head with a pen, forcing her to the ground and rαping her.  Harvey was serving a 30-year sentence for rαping a woman repeatedly with her two-year old child present in November 2011.  Harvey was initially classified as a “Class 4″ security risk, just one notch lower than the highest level.  Despite viοlating prison rules, he was reclassified to a lower level just six months later.  Harvey has been charged with sëxual assault, kidnapping, and assault with a deαdly weapon in relation to the incident.