A civil rights lawsuit filed by four Philadelphia women last week alleges that officials at the all-female prison kept a male-born transsexual’s gender secret because they claim she was engaging in sex acts with a correctional officer, giving Saldana the opportunity to sexually harass female cellmates.
The complaint names 80 defendants, including prison officials, the city of Philadelphia and prisons contractor Prison Health Services, Inc.
“In [transsexual Jovanie] Saldana’s year of incarceration, she went through multiple strip searches, venereal disease tests, cavity searches,” said the women’s lawyer Brian Humble. “At the end of the day, there are only two conclusions you can draw: Either everyone in the prison was an absolute moron and can’t identify a penis from a vagina, or, there was [an unknown] reason.”
The women allege that Saldana repeatedly touched their breasts, leered at them as they undressed and showered, made sexual comments and, in once incident, masturbated on a cellmate from a top bunk.
The complaint claims that action was only taken against Saldana after 425 days of imprisonment.
Police closed a criminal investigation into the incident in September without any charges.