updated 6/11/2009 3:19:35 PM ET 2009-06-11T19:19:35

A Colorado inmate who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a guard was awarded $1.3 million by a judge who said he wanted to send a message that prison rapes will not be tolerated.

In a ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. Circuit Judge David M. Ebel said the Colorado Department of Corrections doesn't effectively prevent sexual assaults against inmates.

The woman at the Denver Women's Correctional Facility sued former Sgt. LeShawn Terrell last year, claiming he repeatedly assaulted her and raped her in 2006. She settled out of court with the Corrections Department for $250,000.

"The right to be safe from sexual assault and rape by one of her guards turned out to be worth no more than the paper upon which (the regulation) was written," Ebel wrote.

Prison records show the 34-year-old victim is serving time on drug, burglary and escape charges and will be eligible for parole in October.

The $1.3 million award includes $354,070 in compensatory damages for pain and suffering, plus $1 million in punitive damages against Terrell.

He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful sexual contact and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. Ebel criticized that sentence as too short.

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