Davis Approves Defense of Guards Accused of Abetting Prison Rape

December 13, 2001

Los Angeles - Today, it was revealed that Governor Gray Davis has approved a settlement between the California Department of Corrections and three current correctional officers and one former CDC employee accused in a pending federal civil rights lawsuit of encouraging and abetting the prison rapes of a former Corcoran prison inmate, Eddie Dillard.

The terms of the settlement, as they have been related to Dillard's Los Angeles attorneys, Robert Bastian and Marina Dini, are that the CDC will pay for the defense of the four in the federal civil rights lawsuit.

The four are accused in a lawsuit brought by Dillard, of covering up their roles in purposely placing Dillard in a cell with a known, recidivist rapist, Wayne Robertson. Robertson, twice Dillard's size, repeatedly raped and assaulted Dillard over the course of three days in March, 1993.

One of the legal consequences, according to Bastian, is that the CDC thereby assumes a statutory responsibility for paying any judgment for compensatory damages against the four.

Nonetheless, the four are possibly -- depending upon the terms of the agreement as yet not released -- personally exposed to possible punitive damages for their role in abetting and covering up their involvement in causing the rapes. Further, the CDC may have retained the right to sue the four for reimbursement if a judgment is ultimately entered against them in Dillard's federal lawsuit.

Prior to the agreement, the CDC withheld payment for the defense of Robert Allan Decker, Joe Sanchez, Anthony J. Sylva and Kathy Horton-Plant.

The four petitioned in state court for an order compelling the CDC to reimburse their legal expenses. The CDC opposed the request on grounds that a CDC administrative investigation concluded that the four engaged in the misconduct alleged by Dillard.

But the state trial court, in Hanford, ruled the CDC was nonetheless legally required to defend the correctional employees. The CDC appealed to a state appellate court in Fresno where the matter was set for hearing on December 17, 2001, but has been rendered moot.

Notwithstanding the administrative findings of misconduct used as justification for withholding payment of the employees' defense, the CDC has not disciplined any employee in connection with the matter. Three defendants still work for the CDC. Two were subsequently promoted.

According to Bastian, "Before this agreement, the victim, Dillard, was bearing the cost and risks of bringing these correctional officers to justice, including the possibility of chasing them into bankruptcy. Under the law, however, this should have been the CDC's burden. Now, the CDC is taking the responsibility it should have borne all along. The Governor has sorted out a complicated legal puzzle, found the right result and sent the right message -- `Justice for all'.

It is anticipated that the trial in the federal lawsuit will occur in Spring, 2002.

Robert L. Bastian, Jr.
Law Offices of Bastian & Dini
925 Century Park East, Suite 500
Los Angeles, CA 90067-2700
p: 310-789-1955
f: 310-822-1961