A transgender prisoner who identifies as a female has been raped by the male inmates in the prison where she is being incarcerated just hours after a federal judge denied her request to stop a Colorado prison from housing her in a disciplinary pod occupied by men.
“They threw a 20-year-old kid in the shark tank knowing what would happen. This is outrageous,” said Paula Griesen, attorney for Lindsay Saunders-Velez. “She looks like a woman and has female attributes, including breasts.”
She didn’t want to go into a punishment pod at Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Cañon City because four inmates — known as “Wet-O,” “Angelo,” “G-String” and “Wing” — were already there and had harassed her, Griesen said.
Saunders-Velez was ordered to go to the disciplinary pod after correctional officers found her kissing a male inmate, a claim she denies.
Mark Fairbairn, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Corrections, said that he could not comment about the open case.
In an April 20 ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger noted that Saunders-Velez only stated in a Dec. 9 memorandum that she had been sexually assaulted by an offender, while refusing to give that inmate’s name.
“Thus, the court cannot say that Ms. Saunders-Velez has described a set of circumstances where she is genuinely at risk of suffering an imminent physical assault at the hands of a fellow inmate,” Krieger ruled.
Krieger noted that most people who would read her request would conclude that prison staff are there to protect. Krieger ordered a hearing for April 23, Griesen said.
Hours after Krieger denied Saunders-Velez’s request, an inmate entered her cell and demanded sex, Griesen said. When she said no, the inmate grabbed her, slammed her head against a metal bunk bed and “brutally raped her,” Griesen said.
The transgender woman began hormone treatments in 2017 and soon developed a “feminine shape,” according to time.com.