(Host) A Vermont prison inmate who is serving time out-of-state wants to be sent back to Vermont because he says he was sexually assaulted in a Kentucky jail. The inmate says he needs to be transferred for his own safety. He says prison authorities in Kentucky have threatened him for speaking out about the abuse. But Vermont corrections officials don’t believe his charges, and say the inmate doesn’t need to be moved.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) Gino Glover is African-American, and he believes his race is a factor in the way officials have handled his allegations of sexual abuse.
The state sends about 400 prisoners to facilities run by a private company, Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA. Most of the inmates are jailed at a CCA facility in Kentucky. When two white Vermont prisoners were sexually assaulted by a prison guard in Kentucky earlier this year, the state transferred them back to prisons in-state.
Glover says he was assaulted by the same guard. He says that in March, a corrections officer ordered him to strip naked, handcuffed him and then molested him.
(Glover) “I told the wardens, both wardens, the unit manager, captains, sergeants, lieutenants -and they all just laughed it off like it was some kind of joke.”
(Dillon) Glover, who is serving time for domestic assault, was in Vermont this week for a court hearing. He’s hoping to remain here, because of threats he says he received in Kentucky. He says prison staff used racial slurs and said they would poison his food.
(Glover) “And the unit manager said, ‘I’d hate to be you in five months.’ I mean, that’s a threat to me.”
(Dillon) Glover’s complaints came to the attention of Senator Vince Illuzzi, a Republican from Essex and Orleans Counties. As chairman of the Senate Institutions Committee, Illuzzi says he hears about 10 to 15 complaints each month from prisoners. He says Glover’s charges seemed credible because of complaints filed independently by other offenders who didn’t know him outlined similar allegations.
(Illuzzi) “What struck me about Mr. Glover’s complaint was that is that it sounded almost identical to other complaints that alleged sexual abuse at the hands of correctional officers or guards in Kentucky. If other offenders had their complaints validated and were returned to Vermont as a result thereof, it makes sense to me to return Mr. Glover as well. In the prison environment in which they’re living, retaliation certainly isn’t out of the question – particularly if a person in authority is willing to sexually abuse an inmate.”
(Dillon) But Corrections Commissioner Steve Gold isn’t convinced that the prisoner is telling the truth. He suspects Glover may have embellished his story after the two other inmates were transferred.
(Gold) “Based on the investigation and my understanding of Mr. Glover’s actual description of what he was concerned about, I determined that the situation was substantially different and didn’t merit the same kind of response.”
(Dillon) Gold also points out that the guard who abused the inmates has been fired. But Glover says he’s worried about retribution from other corrections officers. He says the state of Vermont will be responsible if anything happens to him.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.