New York City settles lawsuit claiming rape at Rikers Island jail

Reuters News
Posted: May 01, 2017 7:25 PM

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City has settled a lawsuit brought by two female inmates at the city's Rikers Island jail who claimed they were raped repeatedly by a guard, according to a letter filed in Manhattan federal court by a city lawyer on Monday.

Under the settlement the city will pay both women, the letter said, though it did not say how much. Lawyers for the two women and a spokesman for the city's law department could not immediately be reached.

The women, identified in court papers as Jane Doe 1 and 2, filed their lawsuit in May 2015, accusing the city of ignoring a "pervasive culture" of sexual abuse at the women's jail at Rikers. They had sought to certify a class action including all inmates who have been or will be assaulted by guards.

In January 2016, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the women could only pursue their claims individually, not as a class action.

Rikers Island is one of the world's largest jail complexes, with 10 separate facilities housing about 10,000 inmates. It has drawn intense scrutiny in recent years over safety and security issues, including allegations of corruption, inmate abuse and unchecked violence.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in March that he would work to close Rikers permanently, following a recommendation by an independent panel convened by New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and led by former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

De Blasio said he expects Rikers can be closed in as soon as 10 years thanks to falling crime.

Dozens of guards have been charged in recent years with various crimes, including smuggling contraband and assaulting inmates.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)