Inmate's suit accuses deputy of rape
By Denny Walsh - dwalsh@sacbee. com
Last Updated 3:19 pm PDT Wed July 2
A 39-year-old woman who claims that while an inmate at the Sacramento County main jail she was repeatedly raped by a female sheriff's deputy, has sued the county and five individuals, alleging violations of her civil rights under federal and state laws.
The divorced mother of two spent nearly 3 1/2 years in the jail, charged with submitting a fraudulent insurance claim, attempted grand theft and failure to appear. She was sentenced June 11 to four years and eight months and paroled the next day, never serving a day in prison.
Her lawsuit was filed Monday by attorney Stewart Katz in U.S. District Court. The Bee is not naming the plaintiff because she claims to be a victim of sexual assault.
Paula Sue Wood, 42, is described in the complaint as "a pathologically aggressive lesbian ... who, at her request, was assigned to work at a female housing unit in the mail jail. She had successfully resisted several suggestions that she change assignments. "
An inmate reported what was happening in January 2007, and an inquiry by jail staff began, the suit says. "No one attempted to speak to (the plaintiff) during the course of this investigation, " it charges. "Not only was Deputy Wood quickly cleared, but apparently, the reporting inmate received discipline for bringing a false complaint against an officer."
Wood "crowed to (the plaintiff) that this guaranteed that nothing would interfere with their relationship, " the suit says. "If possible, Deputy Wood exercised even less discretion and self-control following the ... investigation. "
Three months later, a former jail inmate reported the activity to the internal affairs unit at the Sheriff's Department, and its investigation was assisted by relative of the plaintiff, "who successfully placed a pretext phone call to Deputy Wood."
The deputy was placed on administrative leave in late April 2007 and eventually resigned. She was charged with having sex with an inmate, pleaded no contest, and was declared guilty May 28 by a Superior Court judge.
Wood was sentenced today to 90 days in a work furlough program, meaning she can leave the jail to go to her place of employment and report back when she is not working. Following her completion of the program, she will be on unsupervised probation for three years.
She was ordered by Superior Court Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie to stay away from the victim of her crimes.
Wood refused to talk to a reporter after the hearing.
In a statement submitted to the sentencing judge, the victim wrote: "I was torn between my desperation for relief from her 'pursuit' and domination of me and fear of the consequences of both trying to keep her from touching (me) and of reporting her criminal activities.
"Her actions, apart from the physical violation of my body, have taken a yet-unmeasured toll on my mind. I believe that, at the very least, she has caused me to suffer from depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress.
"Paula Wood should be punished in a manner that reflects what she has done to me and is doing to the reputation of all of the officers who do their jobs day in and day out without abusing those entrusted to their care."
She also asked the judge for an order prohibiting Wood from contacting her or the relative who helped in the investigation.
The plaintiff was 5-foot-6 and weighed 145 when she was jailed, but dropped to 122 pounds during the eight months of the sexual assaults, according to her suit.
It says she first had an awareness Wood "was becoming obsessed with her when, while in the control room of her housing unit, Deputy Wood held up a sign stating, 'You fascinate me.' "
Wood first coerced the victim into having sex in August 2006, the suit says. The victim estimates that between then and April 2007 she was compelled more than 20 times to engage in sex with Wood.
The deputy allegedly rewarded inmates for acting as lookouts while she had sex with the victim in her cell or, on occasion, in a storage closet. The complaint also charges Wood rewarded inmates for "constant reports on everything (the victim) said, did or looked at.
The suit seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages. In addition to the county and Wood, it names as defendants former Deputy Clement M. Tang; Sheriff John McGinness; Capt. Scott Jones, who has been the jail commander since January 2007; and Chief Deputy Mark Iwasa, who preceded Jones at the jail. Tang, 54, described in the complaint as "an opportunistic heterosexual, " is accused of French kissing (the plaintiff) "while she was the sole occupant of a holding cell awaiting a court appearance. Tang would regularly subject her to a constant stream of sexually inappropriate remarks when she was going to and from court."
Reached Tuesday by phone at his south Sacramento County home, Tang said, "Actually, Mr. Walsh, I don't have any comment on that." Tang, a 27-year veteran of the department, retired when faced with the allegations.
"The Sacramento Sheriff's Department believes that there is something about a man or woman in uniform that makes them sexually irresistible, " the lawsuit states. "The department has a custom and practice of dismissing reports of inappropriate coercive sexual acts by deputies of either gender, whether in the jail or elsewhere, as being consensual conduct."
However, where once there seemed to be an endless stream of lawsuits over inmate treatment, they have been scarce since McGinness assumed command of the department two years ago and put Jones in charge of the jail. With the sheriff's backing, Jones is credited with ridding the jail of what had become a brutal culture under former Sheriff Lou Blanas.
About the writer: * Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189. http://www.sacbee. com/101/story/ 1056433.html