- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 25, 2005

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (United Press International) — Testimony began this week in a lawsuit against Texas prison officials by a former inmate who says he was considered the sexual property of a gang.

Roderick Johnson, a homosexual man, served 18 months at the Allred Unit, a reportedly violent prison near Wichita Falls.

While he was there, according to his suit, he repeatedly was gang-raped by members of the Gangster Disciples, a prison gang, and sold for sex to other prisoners. Mr. Johnson sued for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

Testimony this week in federal court in Wichita Falls has shed light on sexual slavery, something prisoners say is common.

One inmate witness, who news organizations have been told not to name to protect him from reprisals in prison, said a purchased rape cost $3 to $7.

Lawyers for the prison don’t deny that prison rape is a problem, but say Mr. Johnson wasn’t a victim. They say that the sex was consensual and that he even wrote affectionate letters to the men he accused of raping him.

Richard E. Wathen, an assistant warden, testified this week that the threat to Mr. Johnson, which he outlined in seven notes to prison officials, did not warrant moving him to those areas of the prison reserved for inmates under serious threat.

“I believe that we did the right thing then, and I would make the same decision today,” Mr. Wathen said. “There has to be some extreme threat before we put an offender in safekeeping.”

The lawyers and some former inmates also say Mr. Johnson isn’t credible because he didn’t resist the men he said raped him.

Mr. Johnson, who was serving time for probation violations after a burglary conviction, is represented by the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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