Attorneys representing a transgender Georgia prison inmate are trying to have her moved or to hear the state prison system’s plan for keeping her safe.
Ashley Alton Diamond, 36, was an inmate at Baldwin State Prison in Milledgeville in February when she filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Corrections seeking safe housing and hormone treatments.
Diamond, who was born a man but identifies as a woman, alleged in her complaint that she’d been raped several times at different facilities since she entered the prison system in 2012, serving time for theft, obstruction and escape convictions in Floyd County. She may be incarcerated until 2023.
At an April hearing, U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell asked to be made aware of any changes in Diamond’s status, said Chinyere Ezie, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center who is representing Diamond.
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As a result, Diamond’s lawyers and attorneys representing prison officials filed a joint status report with the court this month.
The report includes allegations that Diamond was raped June 10 while being temporarily housed at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville on a trip to Augusta for a medical appointment.
According to the report:
Diamond alleges that her cellmate sexually assaulted her. Investigators are trying to determine whether the incident was captured on video, and an independent investigation into her Prison Rape Elimination Act complaint is underway.
Later, when being driven together to Rutledge State Prison in Columbus, Diamond’s alleged attacker threatened her about saying anything.
Diamond reported the alleged assault to officials in Columbus, and the prisoner was housed in “segregation” until he was relocated to another facility weeks later.
Diamond alleges that the prison’s warden told inmates about the incident, including information identifying her alleged attacker. The warden denies the allegations.
Diamond also alleges that she was labeled “a snitch” by other inmates because of the warden’s statements, and that she’s been pressured -- and threatened -- by inmates to withdraw her complaint.
“Ms. Diamond currently fears for her safety,” the report said. “Ms. Diamond presently is afraid of leaving her dormitory, including for meals, without an escort.”
The state attorney general’s office is representing former Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens, department medical director Sharon Lewis, Rutledge State Prison Warden Shay Hatcher, Deputy Warden Ruthie Shelton, and Valdosta State Prison Warden Marty Allen, who are named as defendants in the suit.
An office representative declined comment, citing the pending litigation.
As of late last week, Diamond was still being held at the prison in Columbus.
“We are very concerned about Ms. Diamond’s current housing,” Ezie said. “We are looking to the department to see how they are going to reassure us that Ms. Diamond will be housed safely if she is still going to be housed at Columbus.”
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398 or find her on Twitter@awomackmacon.