PITTSBURGH — A transgender woman was physically and sexually assaulted during stays at a Pennsylvania jail, because staff refused to place her with female inmates, the woman said in a lawsuit filed Monday.
Jules Williams, 37, has identified as female since she was a teenager and is in possession of a birth certificate and state ID reflecting that identification, attorney Alec Wright said.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is also representing Williams, said she was raped multiple times over four days by another inmate in 2015 and was also physically and verbally abused during several periods of incarcerations from 2015 to this year.
The ACLU said it is standard practice at the jail for transgender women to be housed with men, which the organization said violates their constitutional rights.
The lawsuit names Allegheny County and jail administrators as defendants.
County spokeswoman Amie Downs declined to comment. She told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that transgender inmates are interviewed within 72 hours of admission by a committee with medical, mental health, classification and administration staff who make a recommendation to the warden. She declined comment on whether that occurred in Williams’ case.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Williams did. Wright said his client “wants to be at the front of this thing.”
“Her position is that she can’t undo harm she suffered but hopes for this lawsuit to save other transgender women from being harmed,” he said.