According to court documents filed by New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, the city’s Department of Correction received 116 allegations of sexual abuse at Rikers Island in 2014, but reported only two of those to the NYPD. Of those 116 cases, 61 were allegedly carried out by Rikers staff.
DNAinfo reported on the papers, which were filed in support of an earlier class-action lawsuit that alleges “a pervasive culture of rape” at the Rikers women’s jail. Twenty eight of the assault claims from last year were in cases of alleged rape, and none of those were reported to police. The two cases that the DOC did hand over to the NYPD were both misdemeanor sex assaults.
The rape allegations in the class-action suit are horrifying: one Jane Doe alleges she was repeatedly raped by a guard named Benny Santiago, who became jealous when she made eye contact with other officers, beginning in 2006; another Jane Doe claimed that she was denied food after Santiago believed she had told someone about his assaults, which allegedly occurred between 2012 and 2014.
“I have petitioned the Board of Correction to begin formal rule-making to better protect inmates from sexual violence, and they must start tackling this problem with the urgency it deserves,” James wrote in a statement.