Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Female Guards at Edmonton Prison Launch Lawsuit Alleging Bullying, Sex Assaults

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Female Guards at Edmonton Prison Launch Lawsuit Alleging Bullying, Sex Assaults

Article excerpt

Female guards at Edmonton prison file lawsuit

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EDMONTON - A lawsuit claims female prison guards in Edmonton endured prolonged abuse from male co-workers that included sexual taunts, physical assaults, waterboarding and pepper spray being put on a toilet seat.

One female prison guard alleges a male co-worker pushed her over a desk, stuck his hand down her pants and locked a set of handcuffs through her underwear. She says she was put in choke holds and slammed into hard surfaces by her hair.

Another woman alleges she was constantly harassed for being gay and once suffered chemical burns on her buttocks and upper legs after she used a washroom where pepper spray was left on a toilet seat.

The claims are detailed in a lawsuit recently filed by four female guards at Edmonton Institution against the Correctional Service of Canada and the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and statements of defence have yet to be filed.

The suit alleges that sexual assaults, abuse, bullying and harassment were rampant for decades at the maximum-security prison on the northeast edge of the city.

The lawsuit comes after an investigation at the prison last year that concluded the work atmosphere was toxic and made dozens of recommendations for change.

In January, the Correctional Service announced that it had fired six employees, hired a new warden, improved training and created a confidential tip line for employees to report misconduct.

Both the department and the union said in statements Monday that while they can't comment on the suit, they do not tolerate harassment. As well, Edmonton police continue to investigate possible criminal charges in the case.

The Correctional Service "has given itself a veil of secrecy, which managers, senior employees and the union have used to harass and intimidate employees, thus far with immunity," the lawsuit alleges. …

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