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
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
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
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