Jail Official Allegedly Blames Guard For Her Near Rape Encounter Suggested She Brought It On Herself


The city’s jail boss found himself in the middle of a self-inflicted controversy after issuing a memo to staff that suggested the victim of an attempted sexual assault by a prisoner brought it on herself.

Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte warned staff to “adhere closely to basic correctional practices” in a memo issued Tuesday.

The warning came after the Daily News reported Monday that a team of inmates rescued a female correction officer after she was almost raped by a 290-pound prisoner. She was attacked after letting the inmate inside a locked vestibule at Rikers Island on Saturday night, sources told The News.

“For the vast majority of you who make a point to follow your training, thanks and keep up the good work,” read the commissioner’s memo, which was obtained by The News. “For those of you who do not yet realize that reducing violence starts with you, you must do better starting right now.”

Jail bosses were ordered to read the tone-deaf message at 21 consecutive roll calls and post it “in appropriate employee areas.”

Norman Seabrook, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, blasted the commissioner’s memo, calling it a thinly veiled attack on the assaulted officer.

“This is outrageous that the correction commissioner would victimize (her) twice and make it seem like it’s her fault that she was sexually assaulted by an inmate,” Seabrook said.

During the weekend attack, the female officer was choked and her sweater was torn off by inmate Raleek Young, 27, court records show. Young first told the correction officer he needed to go past the locked-down safety “bubble” to pick up a mattress, according to a source. Officers are instructed to keep inmates out of the security area unless absolutely necessary, according to department rules.

The added precaution is necessary because the area typically includes an access

The officer was rescued by responding correction officers and inmates who pulled apart Plexiglas on the outside of the bubble-like watch post inside the Anna M. Kross Center at 8:15 p.m., according to jail sources.

Three skinny inmates slipped inside via a small crack and opened the security door. A team of inmates then tackled Young and waited until additional officers arrived.

Young was charged with attempted rape, sexual abuse, forcible touching, assault and harassment.

He was at Rikers awaiting an unspecified court date. He is already serving a five-to-10-year sentence in state prison for raping a 13-year-old girl in 2007.

In the letter, Ponte thanked some guards, while also saying: 'For those of you who do not yet realize that reducing violence starts with you, you must do better starting right now.'

Ponte, who was in London, couldn’t be reached to respond to questions about the attack or the memo.

Eve Kessler, a Correction Department spokeswoman, said Tuesday night that the commissioner “is more outraged about this incident than anyone because safety is his No. 1 priority.”

“Officers know they have the commissioner’s full support now and always,” Kessler added.

As for the Saturday attack, jail honchos initially labeled the assault a regular “use of force incident,” records show. Officers at the facility demanded it be switched to a sexual assault and briefly refused to go to their posts at the start of the 3 p.m. tour Sunday.

They are now furious the commissioner’s memo appears to blame the female officer, who suffered bruises to her arms and face.

Source: Daily News

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