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  • mcprison mcprison Aug 22, 2001 10:20 PM Flag

    more on $270,000 suit against WHC

    Acquitted ex-prison officer sues for damages

    By STEVE E. SWENSON, Californian staff writer
    e-mail: sswenson@bakersfield.com

    Wednesday August 22, 2001, 09:35:57 AM
    Bakersfield Californian

    A former Taft Prison Camp correctional officer recently acquitted of a
    misdemeanor charge of
    engaging in a sex act with an inmate is suing Wackenhut Corrections Corp.
    for civil rights
    violations and at least $270,000 in damages.

    The suit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Fresno on behalf of
    Tammy Isbell, 42, who
    was fired by the prison Jan. 4, 2000, after it was alleged she engaged in a
    sex act with inmate
    Baltazar Magana, 28, in a darkened conference room on Aug. 12, 1999.

    A criminal trial in federal court on that issue ended March 23 with a jury
    finding her innocent.

    Her criminal defense attorney, Richard Berman of Fresno, put on no defense
    witnesses and
    alleged that prison officials lost important defense evidence.

    Prison officials contended Isbell was not assigned to Magana's section of
    the prison, but Isbell
    maintained the prison lost the orders that required her to be in that
    section.

    Berman, contacted Tuesday at his Fresno law office, said Isbell "and her
    family were publicly
    humiliated by those false charges and the news reports about them.

    "The fact that a jury found her innocent went a long way toward helping her
    regain her respect.
    However, the conduct of Wackenhut was so egregious that hopefully this
    lawsuit will provide
    significant monetary damages for the harm it caused this family."

    Isbell has been married for 21 years.

    Wackenhut officials said it was their policy not to comment on pending
    litigation.

    Previous information released, however, was that prison correctional
    officers who fraternize with
    inmates are subject to dismissal. Those officers who engage in sexual
    contact are subject to
    criminal charges.

    The federal lawsuit was filed Aug. 9 by Berman and attorney David Douglas
    Doyle of Fresno.

    In September 1999, Isbell filed a lawsuit in Kern County Superior Court
    asking that the prison
    rehire her and give her back pay. She lost that suit.

    The federal lawsuit alleges that the prison's attorney, William J. Murray,
    promised during a
    Superior Court hearing to reinstate Isbell with back pay if she was
    acquitted.

    The suit alleges several causes of action, including labor code violations,
    breach of contract, lack
    of fair dealing and civil rights.

    It asks for reimbursement of $70,000 in attorney fees, at least $100,000 for
    each of two causes
    of action, plus punitive damages and costs.

 
GEO
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