Inmate who sued NY COs for sexual abuse wins $425K settlement

The 33-year-old woman alleged in her suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court that the abuse began in September 2015


By Stephen Rex Brown
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — A woman who said she wore a wire to take down three depraved Rikers Island correction officers who allegedly preyed on her behind bars has received a $425,000 settlement from the city.

The woman, whom the Daily News is not identifying, alleged the three officers, Steven Santiago, David Johnson and Nana Osei, sexually abused her in 2015 and 2016.

The three guards, who were represented by union attorneys, were each required to pay $750 as part of the settlement, made official on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Correction Department said the officers are no longer allowed to have contact with inmates and the agency is seeking to fire Santiago and Osei.

The woman is now serving a six-year sentence in Taconic Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills, Westchester County, for her role in a deadly botched robbery. A source said the city sent a legal notice to the victim's family about the settlement, meaning she may have to give up some of her money. Such notices are routine practice by the city Law Department.

The 33-year-old woman alleged in her suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court that the abuse began in September 2015 at the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers.

Santiago forced her to touch herself while he watched on multiple occasions, she charged. He even allowed her into the central command room known as "the bubble" and made her watch pornography on his phone while he pleasured himself, she alleged.

In November 2015, Johnson demanded she "show" him what she did for Santiago, according to the suit.

Four months later, the city's Department of Investigation was on the case. An investigator who was already aware of Santiago's "relationship" with the woman approached her and asked her to wear a wire, according to the suit. She later told the probers about Johnson.

In April 2016, the woman recorded Santiago telling her not to spill the beans about what happened between them, according to the suit. She was soon contacted by the Bronx district attorney's office, which was investigating Santiago's abuse of "several other women," according to papers.

The woman "was concerned for her safety, as she was still an inmate at Rikers Island and did not receive any type of protection," she said in her suit.

Her instincts were right. In September 2016, Correction Officer Osei started walking by her saying "she was pretty and that he liked her," according to the lawsuit.

That month he woke her up at 3:30 a.m. and forced her to have sex with him in a broom closet, the legal papers said. The alleged assaults happened at least four times, and on at least two occasions Osei brought her cereal boxes with marijuana, tobacco and the opioid Suboxone, she charged.

Santiago, Johnson and Osei denied the allegations in court papers.

In December 2016, she told the same investigators with the Bronx DA and DOI about Osei's alleged abuse, she said.

A spokeswoman for the Bronx district attorney's office confirmed none of the correction officers have been charged.

The Law Department said that settling the case was in the city's best interest.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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