Attacked-in-custody Letter To Editor (SPR)

Attacked in Custody

New York Times, Sunday, March 10, 2002

To the Editor:

In ”For a New Obstruction Trial” (editorial, March 5), you assert that new charges should be brought against the three officers charged with conspiring to obstruct justice in the Abner Louima case. Prosecution of these officers is essential, precisely because it is the code of silence that allows such abuse to continue.

It should be emphasized, however, that abuse involving sexual violence like that experienced by Mr. Louima is particularly shrouded in secrecy. Whether committed in police custody, jail or prison, sexual violence is used to degrade and humiliate victims, often shaming them (men especially) into silence.

Those who do report sexual abuse in custody frequently face retaliation, rather than help. And officers too often seek to protect their own, allowing perpetrators to commit this egregious human rights abuse with impunity.

LARA STEMPLE, Exec. Dir., Stop Prisoner Rape, Los Angeles, March 6, 2002