By Andrew Knittle
McLOUD — Eleven women doing time in Oklahoma prisons have filed a federal lawsuit claiming they were sexually assaulted by three guards at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.
They also said in the suit that high-level administrators failed to fix surveillance cameras that might have captured these acts.
The women — a group that includes convicted murderers and a woman caught on camera attempting to smother her own child — filed a lawsuit July 19 against the state Corrections Department, two former prison guards, the prison's former warden and a guard who still works at the prison in McLoud.
The alleged assaults started in December 2010 and continued on until late 2012, court records show.
Two of the former guards named in the lawsuit, David Juber and Jamie Baker, already have been charged with numerous sex crimes in Pottawatomie County.
Gilbert Dildine, who still works at Mabel Bassett, has not been charged with any sex crimes at this point.
The suit claims surveillance cameras in certain parts of the women's prison “were either not properly installed in the area or kept in an ongoing state of disrepair,” and that Juber, Baker and Dildine took advantage of this during the alleged sexual assaults.
The state Corrections Department and high-level administrators at Mabel Bassett are accused of allowing the assaults through negligence.
Former Warden Millicent Newton-Embry and the facility's current Deputy Warden Carla King are named in the suit.
Newton-Embry now serves as the agency's coordinator for the Prison Rape Elimination Act, a federal law enacted in 2003 to cut down on sexual assaults in the nation's prisons.
“Prior to the incidents ... (Newton-Embry and King) had a long history of ignoring complaints of inmates and daily notices of guards which indicated that video surveillance cameras, lights, doors and buzzers were either improperly installed in a particular area or kept in a state of disrepair,” an attorney for the women wrote in a petition.
“This has been known for some time, especially when inmates were involved in an altercation or something was stolen ... On such occasions, inmates had been told that it would be impossible because the cameras were not working.”
Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie said the agency will not comment on the lawsuit, which seeks a judgment in excess of $100,000.
“We haven't even been served with it yet,” he said of the suit.
Details of lawsuit
Baker, who is charged with numerous counts of rape and other sex crimes in Pottawatomie County District Court, is accused in the lawsuit of sexually assaulting nine female prisoners.
The alleged assaults carried out by Baker, according to the lawsuit, took place over a six-month span starting in June 2012. He began working at the state Corrections Department in May 2012, Massie said.
Juber also is charged with sex crimes in Pottawatomie County. Dildine has not been charged with any crime in Oklahoma.
In the lawsuit, Juber is accused of sexually assaulting the same woman “several times” between December 2010 and May 2011.
Most of the assaults allegedly carried out by Baker, Juber and Dildine took place in a staff bathroom or in a supply closet, court papers show.
Lawyers for the women wrote in a petition that Baker, Juber and Dildine would make up reasons to remove the prisoners from their cells, including fictitious appointments to see the prison nurse or under the guise of doing some kind of labor.
The three men are accused of offering the women “preferential treatment” in exchange for keeping quiet about the alleged assaults.
Baker also is accused of telling one inmate she would not be able to see her children if she told anybody about his sexual contact with her.
Dildine is accused of sexually assaulting one female inmate in a secure area known as the “bubble” at Mabel Bassett. The alleged assault took place in “August or September of 2012,” court records show.
“Dildine had coordinated this act with Baker, who was working with Dildine on the same shift,” attorneys for the women wrote in a petition.
“Plaintiffs believe Baker was either acting as a lookout or had agreed to make sure no one else was in the area.”
Dildine also is accused of failing to report Baker's “strange behavior” to his bosses, which allowed many of the sexual assaults to happen, the suit alleges.
“This included Baker's insistence that Dildine sleep on duty, that Baker be allowed to personally deliver inmate mail and the fact that Baker would spend more time than necessary with the inmates when conducting inmate counts and other assignments,” lawyers for the women wrote in a petition.
“All of this is unusual and against the rules and regulations of the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center and, had it been reported, would or should have resulted in corrective action.”
Lawyers for the women also claim that Juber and Baker should not have been working at the women's prison at the time the alleged assaults took place.
Juber had been in trouble before for having inappropriate relationships with female prisoners while working for the state Corrections Department.
He was disciplined in 2009 after prison officials found out that he was exchanging sexually explicit letters with a woman serving time at Mabel Bassett. After admitting to the correspondence, Juber was suspended without pay for two days.
In a letter to Corrections Department officials, Juber expressed gratitude for being allowed to keep his job.
“I did in fact do these things,” Juber wrote. “I know what I did was wrong. This type of action will NEVER happen again. My life is completely turned around. I am a totally different person. Once again, I am sorry for my actions.”
Baker had a checkered past, as well.
Court records show that he was disciplined by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing multiple times for making inappropriate sexual comments and assaulting a patient under his care.
In May 2007, Baker was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation for “sexual misconduct, anger management and interpersonal relationships,” records show.
“Baker should never have been hired as a prison guard to supervise and oversee female inmates,” attorneys for the women wrote in the petition.
“A simple background check would have revealed that.”
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
The criminal cases filed in Pottawatomie County against Baker and Juber are pending, records show.