BECKLEY – A former Alderson FPC inmate has filed a lawsuit against the federal government alleging she was a victim of sexual assault and battery while serving time, including to one prison official who later was convicted of sexual abuse.
The plaintiff, identified only as C.H., filed the federal lawsuit Sept. 9 in U.S. District Court. The defendants listed are the United States of America, Federal Prison Camp Alderson, David R. Wilson, Jerrod R. Grimes, Scott A. Hall and Lieutenant Workman.
“Our firm and Jay McCamic represent three of the young ladies that Captain Grimes was convicted of sexually assaulting for which he is serving a 10-year prison sentence,” attorney Dante diTrapano told The West Virginia Record. “This is another example of an institutional failure allowing a person who has all the power and authority to terrorize vulnerable women.
“We look forward to helping these victims.”
He said more related cases will be filed soon.
According to her complaint, C.H. began serving her sentence for drug-related offenses on April 21, 2017. In July 2017, she says correctional officer Hall began having inappropriate contact wth her. That included “intimate conversations concerning his dissatisfaction with his marriage, overtures of a romantic nature and the passing of love notes from him to her.”
Hall’s “boundary violations” escalated to include making comments about the plaintiff’s body, his attraction to her and his practice of fantasizing about her while masturbating outside of work hours.
“Hall required C.H. to participate in clandestine meetings in empty or unobserved spaces at FPC Alderson, whereupon he kissed her and groped her breasts, vagina and buttocks through her prison-issued clothes,” the complaint states.
Hall later pleaded guilty to providing contraband to C.H. and served a 30-day sentence as well as a $10 fine for giving the “love notes” to C.H. that sentence ended in September 2017.
But the plaintiff says Grimes, who was captain of the facility, failed to properly investigate, intervene or report Hall’s actions against her.
She says Grimes’ conduct was retaliatory. He also allegedly told C.H. she would be the one to suffer if Hall’s abuse of her was discovered or reported.
“Instead, he used his knowledge … as a means of coercing C.H. to submit to ad hoc informal interrogations by him,” the complaint states. “Captain Grimes used the false pretense of an investigation into Hall’s conduct as a means of interrogating, threatening and intimidating C.H. and/or as a means by which to gain unsupervised access to her in furtherance of his own campaign of sexual predation against her.”
On Nov. 3, 2017, C.H. says Grimes isolated her in a back room of the facility’s annex building and forcibly thrust his tongue into her mouth. She says she was shocked by Grimes’ actions and began to shake, adding that the incident ended when an unknown correctional officer entered the room.
“Grimes forcibly groped or otherwise touched C.H. when he believed others were not looking,” the complaint states. “Grimes stalked C.H. by placing inordinate attention on her and her whereabouts and by attending the education building, where she was assigned to work.
“Captain Grimes communicated to C.H. his plan to rape her and told her that there was nothing that she could do about it. C.H. suffered anxiety and lived with a pervasive and well-founded fear that she would be raped by Captain Grimes.”
In November 2017, she says that’s exactly what happened.
After being taken to Grimes’ office, the plaintiff says Grimes ordered her to take her pants down. After she refused, Grimes turned her around and pulled the pants down himself, forcing her to bend at the waist over a small table. When he was finished, he told the plaintiff to pull up her pants and leave his office.
She says Wilson, who was warden, and Workman, who was a female corrections officer at the facility.
“C.H. made a point to establish meaningful eye contact with Lt. Workman as she left Captain Grimes’ office, believing that she could rely on Lt. Workman to make an inquiry as to why C.H. was alone in Captain Grimes’ office and believing that Lt. Workman would take steps to document or report the incident as suspicious,” the complaint states.
C.H. also says Workman and Grimes had a “campaign of sexual harassment” against another inmate identified as J.D. She says they ordered the other inmate to perform sexually suggestive dances in front of them and other guards as well as making comments about the other inmate’s body.
“Workman had a standing agreement with Captain Grimes which involved his providing her with access to inmate J.D., who Lt. Workman was actively grooming for a sexual relationship,” the complaint states. “In return, Lt. Workman did not intervene upon or report Captain Grimes’s sexual abuse of other prisoners, including C.H.”
The 31-page complaint also details a second rape involving the plaintiff and Grimes later in the month.
A month later, C.H. made a full and formal report of the sexual assaults to Workman. According to the complaint, Workman revealed she knew Grimes had raped the plaintiff in his office. C.H. told Workman it had happened twice and that she feared it would happen again.
According to the complaint, Workman “faced with the possibility of an investigation of her own conduct” then told C.H. and J.D. to get into a vehicle with a corrections officer to evade Grimes, “who was by now aware that he was under investigation and who was searching the compound for both inmates.”
The officer took the two women to the woods and instructed them to get out of the vehicle and “run to safety if they saw lights approaching.” The officer also told the women she and other officers knew Grimes was raping and sexually abusing for a number of years.
A day later, Grimes resigned his position at Alderson. Hall resigned that day as well. Workman still works at the facility.
Grimes later was indicted and pleaded guilty to 13 counts of sexual abuse of a ward and abusive sexual contact.
The plaintiff accuses Grimes of sexual assault, battery and sexual harassment. She accuses Hall of assault, battery and sexual harassment. She accuses Wilson, Workman and Hall of failing to intervene despite knowing or suspecting Grimes was sexually harassing and assaulting inmates. And, she accuses the federal government of negligence.
The plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees, court costs and other relief.
She is being represented by diTrapano, Benjamin Adams and Alex McLaughlin of Calwell, Luce diTrapano in Charleston, McCamic of the McCamic Law Firm in Wheeling and Anthony Werner of John & Werner in Wheeling.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Irene Berger.
Alderson FPC is a minimum-security prison for female inmates located in Summers and Monroe counties. The facility houses nearly 1,000 inmates, and most of them have been convicted of non-violent or white-collar crime. Many are in the drug program and have come from other prisons. Notable inmates have included Martha Stewart, Billie Holiday and Iva Toguri "Tokyo Rose" D'Aquino as well as Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore, both of whom attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975.
U.S. District Court case number 5:19-cv-00645