CONTACT: Whitney Potter, ACLU of New Mexico, (505) 266-5915 x1003 or 507-9898; email@example.com
ALBUQUERQUE—The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a lawsuit today against the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) for failing to protect inmate Roman Gallardo from physical and sexual assault by another prisoner while Gallardo was incarcerated for a DWI offense in 2006. The rape took place after Gallardo, an openly gay man, was forced to share a cell with an inmate who was known to have sexually assaulted at least one other prisoner.
“Jail officials knowingly placed Mr. Gallardo in a dangerous situation,” said Peter Simonson, ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director. “Their failure to adequately train and supervise detention officers and provide safeguards against physical and sexual violence amounted to deliberate indifference towards Gallardo’s safety, rights, and bodily integrity.”
According to ACLU legal papers, inmates and custody officers knew that Gallardo was gay and ridiculed him on a daily basis. The director of MDC, Ronald Torres, failed to address the situation and, in January, 2006, allowed Gallardo to be housed in a cell with inmate Niklas Trujeque.
Months earlier, Torres and former jail director Harry Tipton had received a letter from an Albuquerque attorney informing them that the attorney’s client had been raped by Trujeque while incarcerated at MDC.
Roman Gallardo made the following statement, “I was denied my rights as a human being while I was under the care of MDC, and they didn’t care for my well being. I don't want this to happen to anyone else, male or female. It is wrong and can be prevented.”
Attorneys in the lawsuit are Kari Morrissey, cooperating attorney for the ACLU and George Bach, ACLU of New Mexico Staff Attorney. In addition to Ronald Torres, the ACLU’s legal complaint cites the City of Albuquerque and the Bernalillo County Commission as defendants.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.