Things That Matter

Woman Alleges She And Two Other Women In ICE Custody Were Raped Hours Before Being Released And Deported

The United States continues to detain migrants and refugees in detention centers across the country, despite a global health crisis that poses an immense risk to detainees. However, along with the threat of Covid-19 infection – longstanding abuses such as sexual assaults continue to happen inside detention centers.

One brave woman has come forward with her story about a sexual assault that happened at a detention facility outside Houston, Texas.

A federal lawsuit alleges that three women were sexually assaulted hours before being deported back to Mexico.

In a federal lawsuit that was filed on Wednesday, a Mexican woman, who was being held inside an immigration detention facility, said she was raped along with two other women. The woman, identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, is suing CoreCivic – a major private prison company that operates several ICE detention facilities across the U.S.

While in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, the plaintiff said she and two other women were taken from their dorms and placed inside a dark small room. Around midnight, three men in street wear entered the cell and sexually assaulted all of the women. The attackers hit the women in the face, used brutal force and raped each of them.

Hours later, all three of the victims were put on buses and deported back to Mexico – without even being given the chance to shower after the attack.

“She was in a very vulnerable position,” said the plaintiff’s lawyer, Michelle Simpson Tuegel. “I don’t think by chance that these women were targeted on the eve of deportation, and that she was sexually assaulted right as she was being deported.”

“It wasn’t really a position where she had anyone or could do anything at that point,” Tuegel said. 

The woman said she became pregnant as a result of the rape.

The alleged attack occurred June 1, 2018. The plaintiff released a video statement detailing some of the alleged incident. In it, she reveals that shortly after returning to Mexico, she discovered that she was pregnant.

“I became pregnant as a result of the rape and am now the mother of a girl,” she said in the video. 

Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel said that while the plaintiff loves her daughter regardless of how she came into the world, the mother suffered a difficult birth. 

“She conceived a child as a result of this rape and then had a pretty difficult…birth in a rural area of Mexico. She would not have had that, had it not been for this rape,” Simpson Tuegel said. 

Although ICE hasn’t commented on the lawsuit, they have defended the actions of their employees.

Credit: US DHS

ICE said in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation, but said lack of comment should not be taken as agreement with any of the allegations.

“ICE employees and contractors are held to the highest standard of professional and ethical conduct,” the agency said. “Incidents of misconduct are treated with the utmost seriousness and investigated thoroughly. When substantiated, appropriate action is taken.”

Unfortunately, sexual assault and rape are extremely common in ICE detention centers.

Credit: Sally Whitfield / Getty

According to reporting done by The Intercept, between 2010 and 2017, there were 1,224 complaints involving sexual assault. Perhaps even more startling, is that of these more than 1,200 sexual assault allegations – only 43 were ever investigated.

It’s also important to note the extreme obstacles encountered by those wanting to report assaults – from fear and retaliation to outright lack of resources. These patterns suggest that sexual assault and harassment is ICE detention centers are not only widespread but systemic, enabled by an agency that regularly fails to hold itself accountable.

A Group Of Women Who Sued Harvey Weinstein For Misconduct Have Reached A Nearly $19 Million Settlement

Entertainment

A Group Of Women Who Sued Harvey Weinstein For Misconduct Have Reached A Nearly $19 Million Settlement

Spencer Platt / Getty

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein might be in prison but his legal woes continue.

The former film producer and convicted sex offender who founded the entertainment company Miramax and was toppled by allegations of sexual assault amid the early days of the #MeToo movement is still paying big time for his depraved acts of sexual assault and harassment. This week, Weinstein was successfully sued for sexual misconduct by a group of women and reached a nearly $19 million tentative settlement.

Late Tuesday evening, New York Attorney General Leticia James announced that the settlement, which is part of a class-action lawsuit against, meant the women would also be released from confidentiality and NDA agreements.

Speaking about the suit which was filed two years ago, Caitlin Dulaney one of the plaintiffs involved described the lead up to the decision as a “long and grueling battle.”

“Harvey avoided accountability for decades, and it was a powerful moment for us to band together and demand justice,” she said in a statement. “Knowing that we will help so many women who are long overdue for relief gives me hope that this settlement will continue to empower others to speak.”

If the lawsuit is approved by bankruptcy and US district courts, the settlement will give Weinstein victims between $7,500 and $750,000 each.

The suit also accuses Harvey Weinstein’s brother Robert Weinstein who co-founded the entertainment company Miramax with him as well as and other administrators of the Weinstein company of failing to prevent predatory sexual misconduct.

According to reports, the suit says Weinstein “created a hostile work environment by repeatedly and persistently sexually harassing female employees, including frequently remarking on female employees’ physical appearances, berating female employees, and requiring female employees to perform work while he was naked or only partially dressed.”

The suit also says Weinstein made employees help him with his erectile dysfunction injection. On top of this, women employees were also often forced to engage in sex to continue working for him or advance their careers. Some were even made to clean up for him after he had sex.

In 2017, The New York Times reported the first allegations of misconduct against Weinstein which ultimately helped spark the #MeToo movement. As a result, dozens upon dozens of women came forward to accuse Weinstein of rape and harassment.

The announcement comes three months after Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for raping Jessica Mann.

He was also charged with engaging in a criminal sexual act against Mimi Haley. Currently, he is being held in prison at the Wende Correctional Facility in Buffalo, New York.

Still, not everyone involved thinks the settlement is enough. Attorneys for six other women who have sued Weinstein for misconduct have called it a “complete sellout.” They also underlined that the settlement does not hold Weinstein accountable.

Speaking about the decision, Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, two lawyers in a case against Weinstein said in a statement that they “are surprised that the Attorney General could somehow boast about a proposal that fails on so many different levels. While we do not begrudge any survivor who truly wants to participate in this deal, as we understand the proposed agreement, it is deeply unfair for many reasons. We are completely astounded that the Attorney General is taking a victory lap for this unfair and inequitable proposal, and on behalf of our clients, we will be vigorously objecting in court.”

Military Members Are Sharing Stories Of Sexual Assult In The Military Using #IAmVanessaGuillen

Things That Matter

Military Members Are Sharing Stories Of Sexual Assult In The Military Using #IAmVanessaGuillen

David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Vanessa Guillen went missing on April 22 from a parking lot at Fort Hood. Before going missing, Guillen confided in her family about alleged sexual assault and harassment she faced at the U.S. Army base. Her story sparked an online movement to talk about sexual assault in the military.

Women are using #IAmVanessaGuillen to talk about sexual assault in the U.S. military.

It wasn’t until recently that movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp made it clear that society was done with making excuses for sexual assault. Powerful and influential men have fallen because of their behavior. The disappearance of Vanessa Guillen is shining a renewed light on sexual assault in the military.

The stories range from inappropriate behavior from superiors to rape from fellow soldiers.

Women see themselves reflected in Guillen and her story. Former military women are shedding the shame and fear of coming forward to tell their stories in a public space. The unity on social media is offering women comfort and support as they open up about the most personal thing someone can talk about.

Some of the stories are absolutely heartbreaking.

According to a report from the Defense Department, sexual assault in the U.S. military went up 3 percent between fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The department reported 7,825 reports of sexual assault on service members. However, Pentagon officials assert that the change cannot be characterized as an increase in assaults. A prevalence survey on sexual assault in the military is conducted every other year.

According to some women, the assault and harassment started quickly.

The same study found that sexual assault at the 3 military academies saw a spike of 32 percent. The figures show an increase of 117 reported sexual assaults in 2018 compared to 149 sexual assaults reported in the academies.

“Our Academies produce our future leaders. At every turn, we must drive out misconduct in place of good order and discipline. Our data last year, and the findings from this year’s report, reflect the progress we have made in some areas, and the significant work that remains,” Elizabeth Van Winkle, the executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency, said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “We will not falter in our efforts to eliminate these behaviors from our Academies and to inculcate our expectation that all who serve are treated, and treat others, with dignity and respect.”

Some men have also used the hashtag to share their own experiences.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 1 out of every 10 rape victims is male. The study also shows that 1 out of every 33 men will experience an attempted or completed sexual assault.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, you can call 1 (800) 656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN by clicking here.

READ: Partial Human Remains Found Near Fort Hood During Search For Vanessa Guillen