The alleged sexual assault of a mentally ill man in the Tulsa Jail could have been prevented had jail staff provided proper mental health care and supervision, the man’s family said in an interview with The Frontier.
Allen Mora and Kendra Crocker are the guardians of the victim, who suffers from schizophrenia and other mental illness.
The Frontier does not identify victims of alleged sexual assaults.
According to an investigation by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, the victim, who had been booked in on a misdemeanor trespassing complaint, was allegedly physically and sexually assaulted at the jail in July 2015 by his cellmate — a convicted sex offender who was being held at the jail on a complaint of failure to register as a sex offender.
“The system failed him this time. He should have never slipped through the cracks,” Mora said. “They were very aware of (our relative’s) mental illness. He should have never been in jail.”
The couple filed a lawsuit in federal court in Tulsa on March 22 on behalf of the then-21-year-old victim, who is currently in jail awaiting a competency evaluation on an unrelated attempted robbery complaint.
The suit names as defendants former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz, current Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado, the Tulsa Board of County Commissioners, the jail’s former health care provider Armor Correctional Services, Inc., and two unnamed individuals.
The suit accuses the jail of failing to provide adequate supervision and care for the victim, and the sheriff’s office and health providers of engaging in a pattern of behavior that put vulnerable prisoners at risk.
The defendants, the suit alleges, violated the rights of the victim by “failing to provide him with prompt and adequate supervision, failing to intervene to prevent further injury, overpopulating the jail, and understaffing the jail despite the obvious need.”
Casey Roebuck, spokeswoman for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, said she could not comment on pending litigation, and the sheriff’s office and county commission have not yet filed a response to the lawsuit. In its response, Armor Correctional Services has denied any wrongdoing.
The suit seeks a judgement of at least $75,000 for the physical and emotional damage suffered by the victim, who was 21 at the time of the alleged assault.
The jail, as well as former Sheriff Glanz, has been the subject of numerous civil rights lawsuits over the past few years, including lawsuits by prisoners who stated they were sexually assaulted at the jail and lawsuits by family members of prisoners who died at the jail.
The jail’s Prison Rape Elimination Act audit records show that out of 19 allegations of sexual assault or abuse reported in 2014, 10 cases were substantiated. In 2015, 11 out of 25 reports of sexual assault or abuse were substantiated. Only three cases out of 30 reports in 2016 were substantiated, the jail’s reports show.
According to the lawsuit, the victim was suffering from “obvious, known, and serious mental health disorders, including schizophrenia” during and after being booked into the jail, and the jail failed to perform a mental health evaluation and take precautions to protect him.
Because he had been brought to the jail a few times before for minor infractions, jailers knew the victim and his mental condition, Crocker said, and he would often be immediately sent to a mental health facility for treatment rather than booked into jail.
However, when the victim was arrested for trespassing and brought to the jail in June 2015, he did not receive a mental health evaluation and was cleared by Sheriff’s Office and Armor staff to be placed in one of the jail’s general population cells with 59-year-old Anthony Eugene Williams, the suit alleges.
In 2013, Williams pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual battery, after he twice grabbed a Tulsa woman in a sexual manner while making sexual comments towards her, according to court documents.
As part of the plea agreement, he was required to register as a sex offender and received a five-year suspended sentence, according to court records.
In May 2015, Williams was arrested on a complaint of failure to register as a sex offender, and prosecutors asked that his suspended sentence be revoked, court documents state.
According to police, Williams, who was homeless, was staying only rarely at the address he had given his probation officers as part of his sex offender registration requirements and was uncooperative with efforts to monitor him, according to court records.
When the victim was booked into the Tulsa County Jail, Williams was being held in the jail for the failure to register as a sex offender charge.
Almost immediately after being sent to his cell, Williams began to harass and sexually threaten the victim, who tried to inform jail workers and requested to be moved to another cell, the suit states.
Mora and Crocker also said they had tried to convince jail staff that their family member was in danger and to move him after he told them about the threats, but to no avail, the suit states.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“They think everybody is crying wolf. If they would have just listened to him, this wouldn’t have happened.” – Kendra Crocker[/perfectpullquote]
“They think everybody is crying wolf,” Crocker said. “If they would have just listened to him, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Crocker and Mora also questioned why a person suffering from severe mental illness and accused of a minor trespassing crime would be assigned to a cell with a convicted sex offender.
Deputy Justin Green, a TCSO spokesman, said all prisoners are interviewed prior to being assigned housing. That interview takes into consideration the prisoner’s current criminal charges, criminal history, gang affiliations, past history in the jail, and other issues before determining appropriate housing. Prisoners who are being held on charges that have a bond of more than $100,000 or are being accused of serious violent crimes are assigned to a maximum security pod, while others are assigned to a general population pod or a mental health pod if it’s determined the individual is mentally ill, Green said.
During his time in the jail prior to the assault, the victim also continued to show signs of mental health issues — at one point he began barking — but was not given mental health care by jail and medical staff, the suit alleges.
On the morning of July 7, shortly after breakfast, Williams allegedly pulled the victim off the top bunk he was laying on, causing him to strike his head as he fell and knocking him unconscious, according to investigators’ reports.
When the victim came to, Williams was allegedly in the act of raping him, investigators said.
The victim was able to get Williams off him by hitting him in the testicles, and a detention officer opened the cell door after he heard screaming, allowing the victim to flee from Williams, investigators state.
Investigators noticed a bump on the victim’s head, and an examination at a nearby hospital showed evidence that he had been sexually assaulted, investigators said.
Williams later said the victim had been up all night walking around the cell, singing and clapping, the investigative report states, and that he had nothing to do with the injuries, investigators wrote. Williams also said during an interview with investigators that the victim “was like a son to him and that he took care of him while they were cellmates,” and that other people in the pod may have been trying to frame him, convincing the victim to lie in order to do so, the report states.
Once the victim was taken back to the jail, he underwent a mental health evaluation. The results showed that the victim was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and often has auditory and sometimes visual hallucinations, the report states.
Later, the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office filed first degree rape charges against Williams, but prosecutors dropped the charges only a few months later after the victim failed to show up for the preliminary hearing.
The assault had deeply affected the victim, Crocker said, and he had taken steps to avoid being in the courtroom with his alleged attacker, Crocker said.
“Every time it was time to go to court, he would get up extra early and disappear,” Crocker said, adding that he “would leave so he wouldn’t have to go to court.”
Williams was found guilty of failing to register as a sex offender and sentenced to five years in prison to run concurrently with his five-year sexual battery sentence, court records show.
Since the assault, Crocker said her loved one has been suffering a “devastating” slow, sad decline – turning to hard drugs, waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, and harming himself.
“He just let himself go,” Crocker said. “It’s really sad.”
Crocker said she hopes her family member is able to one day move past what happened, and that the lawsuit helps to reform the system she feels let him down.
“It’s just sad, the way the system is failing the mentally ill,” Crocker said. “I hope he can put this behind him and get the proper treatment he needs. I hope he can move on and lead a more prosperous life.”