Two women are suing Live Oak County, Texas and its former jailers for sexual assault and running what they call a “rape camp,” according to their complaint, which can be read in its entirety here. It was reported today that two women who were previously detained in Live Oak County Jail filed a complaint against former employees Vincent Aguilar, Israel Charles, Jr., and Jamie E. Smith, accusing the three men of heinous acts of sexual assault and harassment.
“The abuse was so pervasive, and knowledge of it so widespread, that inmates in a neighboring county – the Jim Wells County Jail – had knowledge of the assaults.”
The complaint alleges that, “Beginning sometime in 2007 to at least August of 2010, the Live Oak County Sheriff’s Office ran a ‘rape camp’ known as the Live Oak County Jail. In this facility, numerous jailers, all employed by the Live Oak County Sheriff’s Office, repeatedly raped and humiliated female inmates over an extended period of time.” The charges include forcing female inmates to perform sexual acts on the guards and on each other, varying methods of rape and assault, and physical and verbal abuse.
“In order to facilitate their carnal impulses, these guards would withhold food and water, engage in physical abuse, restrict privileges, and verbally and emotionally abuse the women – even threaten to kill them in order to compel their compliance.” The complaint asserts, “In addition to the repeated sexual assaults, numerous female inmates were sexually harassed.”
One of the female plaintiffs was arrested on marijuana possession charges in 2010 and was transferred from Jim Wells County Jail to Live Oak County Jail. Shortly after her transfer, she was warned by a jailer there to avoid the defendants, Aguilar and Smith. When asked why, the jailer responded that the plaintiff should “stay away from them,” and that he would lose his job if he said more.
Her possession charge was later dismissed, and dropped upon her release from custody, according to the complaint. The jailers told the plaintiff that “she ‘belong[ed] to [them]’ and was their ‘sex slave or whatever they wanted her to be.'” The second plaintiff was booked in the Live Oak County Jail in 2010 as well. The complaint claims that, upon meeting Aguilar, the second plaintiff was pinned against a wall, face first, and sexually assaulted by the jailer. “From that point forward, things only got worse…”
The practice of male jailers segregating female inmates and forcing them to perform sexual acts or sexually assaulting them was a regular and common occurrence. By and large, the jailers were able to operate the camera system and/or seclude the inmates in order to avoid any of the incidents being recorded. The camera system and security measures employed by the facility were grossly ineffective at preventing violent sexual assaults against female inmates by male jailers.
The three men were arrested in 2010, after one female inmate came forward. Their bonds were set at $20,000 each, and all posted bond and were released. Today, Smith and Aguilar are in Texas state prisons and Charles is living close by in Bee County, Texas, according to the complaint. The women are seeking damages for “civil rights violations, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.