Outrageous Abuses Reported at Hawaii Prison
by Purna Nemani, Courthouse News (Be sure to read the 1998 SB article below.)
HONOLULU (CN) - A male prison warden filmed his "public sexual shamings" in which female inmates had to disclose their "rape, childhood sexual abuse ... sexual preferences [and] sexual deviations," while he called them "whores" in front of male inmates, a woman claims in a federal class action.
Alexandria Gregg sued Hawaii's Department of Public Safety, its director Ted Sakai, and the allegedly abusive warden of the Kauai Community Correctional Center, Neal Wagatsuma.
"Defendant Wagatsuma's public sexual shamings of female detainees at KCCC involved a myriad of improper, intolerable, and illegal acts," Gregg says in the lawsuit. "For example, defendant Wagatsuma belittled and derided female detainees in front of other male detainees and required the female detainees to hold up provocative, sexual photographs of themselves as he called them 'whores.'
"During these public sessions, defendant Wagatsuma would demand that female detainees disclose their private sexual histories, which included rape, childhood sexual abuse, and drug-induced sex. Defendant Wagatsuma would go further and extensively question the female detainees about their sexual histories, sexual preferences, sexual deviations, and sexual pleasures. For example, female detainees were asked about what they thought about when they masturbated.
"Defendant Wagatsuma would often film these public sexual shamings. Typically, the detainees selected for filming were young attractive women.
"If a detainee refused to follow defendant Wagatsuma's order to degrade themselves sexually, he would deem the detainee uncooperative. Defendant Wagatsuma retaliated against these 'uncooperative' detainees by sending them back to the more restrictive and punitive KCCC modules, transfer them to another correctional facility, or withhold privileges."
Gregg claims that in the 6 months she was incarcerated at KCCC she and other women endured numerous "public shamings" in front of male detainees, for up to 45 minutes at a time.
Wagatsuma called her a "whore" and a "batuna," a slang word for a woman who trades sex for drugs, Gregg says in the lawsuit.
The complaint adds: "Defendant Wagatsuma would also force female detainees to write and submit detailed descriptions of traumatic sexual and physical molestations endured in childhood or adolescence. These intimate sexual disclosures were then posted in an open book for other detainees and DPS employees to read."
The 28-page lawsuit alleges a string of nauseating abuses. For instance: "Defendant Wagatsuma's public exhibitions and sexual humiliations of female detainees also involved the screening of a twenty minute film that depicted the rape of a young adolescent female. The film appeared realistic and included graphic, violent images of the young female screaming as she was raped. This film screening traumatized plaintiff and the other class member female detainees."
Gregg was released for a 3 months, and was sent back to KCCC while she was pregnant and gave birth while incarcerated there.
She claims the warden then targeted her again. She says when she asked him to return the videotapes of her sexual statements, he claimed they had been destroyed.
And: "When defendant Wagatsuma learned that plaintiff contracted mastitis and stopped pumping breast milk, he had plaintiff immediately moved back to the harsher conditions of KCCC's module units."
Gregg claims Watsugama is still employed and believes he is currently retaliating against employees and detainees in response to their complaints.
She seeks class certification, declaratory judgment, an injunction and punitive damages for cruel and unusual punishment, sexual abuse, other constitutional violations, civil rights violations, privacy invasion and reckless indifference.
She is represented by Margery Bronster of Bronster Hoshibata.
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Meet the Plaintiff: Do you know Alexandria Tangalin (or Gregg)
SA: A former inmate accuses the warden of a Kauai facility
HNN: Former Kauai prison worker talks about alleged abuses
KGI: Social worker sues KCCC
KGI: Former inmate’s suit targets Kauai warden
1998 Kauai Hindu Monastery: Interview of a Prison Warden
Wagatsuma: Why 90% of Prison Programs Fail
SB 1998: Kauai warden wins acclaim: His 'Lifetime Stand' program has garnered national attention
WAILUA -- Neil Wagatsuma works 80-hour weeks and skips vacations because he has "faith in his fellow man" and a passionate belief that even the worst criminals can change if they want to.
He's the warden at Kauai Community Correctional Center and the creator of the "Lifetime Stand," a prison rehabilitation program that stresses work ethic, perseverance, discipline and personal responsibility.
It culminates with furloughed inmates "proclaiming" in emotional public ceremonies that they'll live the rest of their lives crime-free.
The program has garnered the attention of the American Corrections Association, which named Wagatsuma as one of "the best in the business."
Wagatsuma has a flair for drama and is sometimes humble, compassionate and autocratic in his mission to rehabilitate the criminals in his care.
"Criminals are the most selfish people in the world. They always blame others," Wagatsuma said. "I try to show them where they stand in life's bigger picture."....
Inmates selected for the Lifetime Stand are the elite of the prison. They are 50 men and six women who are want to change their lives, Wagatsuma said.