Lawyer: Connecticut prisoner being deported

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A British man who has been protesting his sexual assault conviction in Connecticut and refusing to register as a sex offender is being deported, his immigration attorney said Tuesday.

Erin O’Neil-Baker said William Coleman called her late Tuesday afternoon to say he was being taken to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York for a flight to England against his will.

O’Neil-Baker said she questions the travel documents being used to transport Coleman and that she and his other attorneys are shocked that immigration officials didn’t notify them. She said a judge ordered Coleman deported in 2011 and she doesn’t understand the urgency to carry that out now.

“It is a shock because this is out of the normal course of action,” she said. “There’s no urgency here. There’s no reason why they had to do an 11th-hour secret transfer.”

Earlier Tuesday, Coleman’s public defender, Scott Abkowicz, said he was in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The state Department of Correction confirmed that Coleman was no longer in its custody as of Tuesday but would not elaborate.

An ICE spokesman said he couldn’t immediately confirm that the agency had custody of Coleman.

Coleman, 53, who is from Liverpool, England, was supposed to be released from prison in December 2012 after finishing an eight-year sentence for sexually assaulting his wife, but he refused to register as a sex offender. Authorities charged him with failing to register, a felony, and he was detained on $50,000 bail.

Coleman went on a hunger strike in September 2007 to protest his conviction on what he claimed was a fabricated sexual assault charge, and prison officials ended up force-feeding him under court orders. He eventually agreed to consume liquid nutrition, but he hasn’t had solid food since 2007, according to his supporters.

O’Neil-Baker said state prison officials continued to force-feed Coleman through a nasal tube for most of the last several years. She said he has serious health problems and she worried his medical needs weren’t going to be met.

Coleman was scheduled to appear Wednesday in Enfield Superior Court, when a judge was expected to get a status update in the case involving the charge of failure to register as a sex offender.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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