Raped behind bars

Detention authorities have a year to enact a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual assault

By Dave Maass, San Diego CityBeat
July 18, 2012

Joe was presented with a choice: Get in the cell with the stranger or get written up.

It was the summer of 2009. Joe was 41, openly gay, HIV positive and serving a three-year sentence on attempted robbery charges at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, a prison in Otay Mesa run by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Joe had asked to be removed from the general population after being threatened by another inmate. But there were no open cells in administrative segregation, or Ad/Seg, so he was told to share.

Joe couldn’t have known that the man in the cell, whom we’ll call Taylor, was a convicted rapist. In 1991, Taylor picked up a woman and drove her to a park, where he beat her, sodomized her, raped her and forced her to perform oral sex. She escaped to a nearby house and pounded on the doors. The occupants called the cops, who found her there with a swollen face and a dress stained with blood and fecal matter. Taylor was sentenced to 72 years in prison for committing the sexual assault while knowingly carrying HIV.

Joe couldn’t have known that Taylor had been charged with battering and injuring his cell mate in an altercation a week earlier. Had CDCR followed protocol, Taylor would’ve been on mandatory single-cell status.

Joe maintains that the guard told him Taylor was an “all right guy.” So, he went in the cell.

This time, Taylor’s victim would not escape.


This is a story about sexual assault in prisons and jails in San Diego County. It will be difficult to read.

“Prison rape” is a term of convenience, an umbrella that we can use to avoid describing in detail the many ways in which a person may violate another. But those details are important.

“This is not love-making,” Joe says in a telephone interview. “This is nothing like that.”

Joe wrote out by hand what happened to him at Donovan in a 19-page sworn declaration. Without the details, from the agony of the first anal penetration to the oral copulation performed under the tacit threat of getting shanked, it’s hard to understand how a predator can turn another man into his bitch in just four days.

Read the full article at http://www.sdcitybeat.com/sandiego/article-10760-raped-behind-bars.html.