An incarcerated, trans gender woman from Rome has filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia’s Department of Corrections, claiming the DOC and prison officials failed to stop repeated sexual assaults against her.
Ashley Diamond says in her suit that staff and inmates at Valdosta State Prison continually harass her because she’s transgender, and that prison officials have failed to protect her. Both the Department of Corrections and the prison violated their zero tolerance policy for sexual violence and federal law, the latter of which Diamond says provides instructions about where transgender prisoners must be held.
Diamond lists Valdosta State Prison, the state’s Department of Corrections, warden Marty Allen, deputy warden Shawn Emmons, the prison’s mental health director and the staff psychiatrist as defendants.
Diamond seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as relief from her situation. She filed suit last week.
“I remain suicidal, unable to function and will be irreparably harmed by the defendants’ behavior and seek judicial relief,” Diamond’s suit states.
Diamond is serving a 12-year sentence after her probation was revoked in 2012 on theft charges, Superior Court records state.
According to the suit, Diamond arrived at Valdosta State Prison on Jan. 1. Eight days later she was sexually harassed by a roommate. She was sexually assaulted a week later.
Officials ignored Diamond’s pleas for help. Housed in a medium security prisoner with violent, maximum security inmates, Diamond’s been forced into gang activity, made to “hide drugs and become a plaything for the boys,” her complaint states.
Diamond also claims the prison warden suggested she enter protective custody if she feared for her safety. Diamond states that she’d lose access to schooling, prison programs, counseling and early release credit if she entered protective custody.
Additionally, Diamond says a doctor discontinued her medications, including lithium and Zoloft, which she’s taken for years.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has taken up Diamond’s cause. It’s previously claimed Diamond’s been denied hormones she’s received about half her life.
“Ms. Diamond has filed a new lawsuit directed at the repeated failures by the Georgia Department of Corrections to protect her from multiple instances of sexual harassment and sexual assault,” said David Dinielli, deputy legal director with the SPLC. “This lawsuit adds new color to our ongoing claim that Ms. Diamond has been denied basic medical care that Georgia Department of Correction’s own policies require, and underscores the inhumane conditions that Ms. Diamond and others like her experience in our prison systems.”