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ACLU Suit Claims Texas Inmate Raped, Sold as Slave for Months

April 19, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

HOUSTON — Texas prison officials were sued Thursday for allegedly allowing a 33-year-old gay black inmate to be raped and sold among prison gangs for $5 as a slave.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in U.S. District Court in Wichita Falls, Texas, claims that as prison gang members traded Roderick Johnson "as a chattel," sexually assaulted him and forced him to clean inmates' cells, guards chided him for not protecting himself.

ACLU attorney Margaret Winter said that Johnson had complained to prison officials for 18 months to no avail and that authorities moved him into protective custody this month only after the ACLU intervened. Johnson, a sailor, is serving a 10-year term at the James V. Allred Unit in Iowa Park for violating parole terms from a home burglary and cocaine conviction.

"Texas prison officials think black men can't be victims and believe gay men always want sex, so they threw our client to the wolves," Winter said.

Larry Todd, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said that an investigation was launched before Thursday's lawsuit and that "we run a clean, efficient, state-of-the-art prison."

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