Thursday, February 12, 2009

(02-11) 19:10 PST San Francisco
The state Supreme Court allowed a transgender former prison inmate on
Wednesday to proceed with a lawsuit accusing prison guards of failing
to protect her from being raped and beaten by her cellmates.

In her suit, Alexis Giraldo said she was being held at Folsom State
Prison for shoplifting and a parole violation in January 2006 when a
cellmate began assaulting and raping her on a daily basis. She said
prison staff ignored her complaints until March 2006, when she was
transferred to segregated housing after a second cellmate attacked her
with a box-cutter. She was paroled in July 2007.

Prison officials denied failing to protect Giraldo, who was housed
at the all-male prison because she had not undergone surgery. A San
Francisco jury rejected her emotional-distress claim against six prison
employees in August 2007 after the trial judge dismissed her claim of
negligence, ruling that guards have no legal duty to protect inmates
from harm.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco overturned the
judge's ruling last November, saying a jailer who takes a prisoner into
custody must take reasonable steps to protect that prisoner from
foreseeable injuries. California's high court denied review of the
state's appeal Wednesday, allowing Giraldo to pursue her claim that
negligence by prison employees was a cause of the assaults.

E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko@sfchronicle.com.