JDI IN THE NEWS - 2003

Mark Arner, Guard Jailed on Sex Assault Charges, San Diego Union Tribune, March 1, 2003.

A veteran guard at Donovan state prison in Otay Mesa has been jailed on charges he sexually assaulted a 32-year-old inmate in late 2001.

Kimberly Lewis, who has worked for the state Department of Corrections for nearly 17 years, was charged yesterday with 10 felony counts accusing him of forcing the inmate to have oral sex with him on at least two occasions, according to court records.

Bail was set at $250,000. Lewis is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in San Diego Superior Court.

Lewis, who is black, is also accused in court records of making threatening remarks toward Asians. Co-workers told investigators that they heard him make comments such as "I told my psychiatrist I'm going postal, kill some more Asians. I might just kill everyone."

The allegations surfaced as prosecutors sought a stiff bail. No charges have been filed in connection with those allegations.

Investigators were notified of the sexual assault allegations when the state Office of the Inspector General got a letter from the prisoner last Aug. 29. The inmate said Lewis began propositioning him with sexually explicit remarks in 2001, according to court records.

At one point, Lewis, 48, told the prisoner that if he did not agree to perform oral sex, Lewis could file a bogus charge against him and extend his time in the 4,386-bed prison, court records show.

The first time Lewis assaulted the inmate was in November 2001 in a laundry room, records state. After locking the door, Lewis told the prisoner, "You know what you gotta do." Lewis took off his belt and unzipped his jumpsuit, according to court records.

Less than three weeks later, the inmate was again sexually assaulted in the laundry room. But before the assault, the prisoner stuffed a small towel in his pants pocket; he used the towel afterward to collect the guard's body fluids.

The prisoner later sent the towel to his sister and told her to contact a lawyer, records state. The lawyer put the towel in a plastic bag and froze it to preserve the evidence.

On Nov. 12, investigators secured a search warrant ordering the seizure of blood and saliva samples from Lewis. Samples were compared with spots on the towel and on Monday DNA test results implicating Lewis were returned.

The prisoner, who described himself as gay, wrote to The San Diego Union-Tribune in January. He is not being identified because it is the newspaper's policy not to name victims of sexual assault.

In his letter, the inmate described the first assault, saying, "What could I do? So I did it. After, I was pissed off, because there was nothing I could do, and nobody was going to listen to me . . . I wasn't going to let him get away with it."

The prisoner could not be reached yesterday to comment on the arrest.

It was not clear yesterday why the man was in prison. His sister said he had not been convicted of a violent felony.

His sister said reporting sexual assaults is hard for inmates.

"It appears from the time line of my brother's case that inmates have no access to help from inside prison walls," she said. "I fear for his safety. I pray that justice will be served."

The Department of Corrections does not keep statistics on how often prisoners have been sexually assaulted by guards or other prisoners.

Lara Stemple, executive director of a Los Angeles-based group called Stop Prisoner Rape, said prison sexual assaults are common, but are virtually ignored by the state prison system. She said they are rarely prosecuted.

"We routinely hear from male and female inmates who are sexually assaulted by the very officers who are charged with their protection," Stemple said. "This kind of sexual violence derails justice and destroys human dignity."

Female victims could become pregnant, and all victims "are exposed . . . to life-threatening diseases, and to psychological trauma. The impact of that often leads to substance abuse and sometimes to suicide."

Stemple's group last fall criticized the FBI for its practice of including only female rape victims in its annual Uniform Crime Report. She contends the report ignores "the vast numbers of men who are raped and sexually brutalized in prison."

"The best study that we can cite showed that one in five male inmates has been sexually assaulted and one in 10 have been raped," Stemple said.

The study, published in 2000 by Cindy Struckman-Johnson, looked at cases in seven prisons in several Midwestern states. It can be viewed on the group's Web site: www.spr.org