Arizona pays $3 million in prison teacher rape case

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 04, 2016 8:24 PM

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona agreed on Monday to pay $3 million to an ex-prison teacher who was attacked and raped at a state correctional facility when she was left alone with a violent sexual offender.

The victim sued the state in October 2014 claiming prison officials were grossly negligent in allowing the incident to occur on Jan. 30, 2014. She had sought $4 million in her claim.

Court records showed Arizona did not admit liability in the attack at the Eyman prison complex in Florence, about 60 miles southeast of Phoenix, but settled the lawsuit.

The settlement agreement, obtained by Reuters through a public records request, was made final on Monday.

Authorities said the teacher was attacked in a classroom by Jacob Harvey, who was serving a 30-year term for sexual assault and kidnapping. Investigators confirmed that Harvey stabbed the victim with a pen, brutally assaulted and then raped her. No guards were present throughout.

Harvey was sentenced to life in prison in September for the rape, plus additional time for kidnapping and aggravated assault, and he apologized to the former teacher during the court proceeding.

State prison officials were heavily criticized following the attack and the department was fined $14,000 for workplace safety violations, which is being appealed.

Scott Zwillinger, the teacher's attorney, said he was "very satisfied" with the settlement that he believed is fair to both sides.

A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections said steps have been taken to beef up security measures and staff training to help bolster safety at its facilities.

(Reporting David Schwartz in Phoenix, Arizona; Editing by Curtis Skinner and Sandra Maler)