STEWART COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL) – A new report alleges multiple women were sexually assaulted while being held at an immigrant detention facility in Lumpkin, Georgia.
The four women came forward in a formal 18-page legal complaint filed with the United States Department of Homeland Security. They’re backed by legal counsel from the Southern Poverty Law Center and six advocacy organizations. These organizations say these incidents are part of a long chain of abuse within the Stewart Detention Center.
The complaint alleges four women were repeatedly sexually assaulted by a male nurse at the Stewart Detention Center. His name is redacted in the report.
Stewart Detention Center has been operated by CoreCivic since it opened in 2006. The most recent audit states Stewart housed 398 males and 298 females, all detained under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The report states that when two detainees reported the nurse’s behavior to CoreCivic and ICE employees, they were repeatedly threatened with both legal action and prolonged detention.
CoreCivic Director of Public Affairs Ryan Gustin tells WRBL in part, “We unequivocally deny any claims of threats or retaliation.”
The company’s mission statement reads, “CoreCivic is committed to providing high quality, compassionate treatment to all those in our care.”
Amilcar Valencia, the Director of El Refugio, a ministry working with detainees and their families says detainees have reported abuse or medical neglect for years.
“The reality is that ICE, and CoreCivic, have failed to protect the very same people they are given by the government to take care of. You know, health professionals are there to help people, not to harm them or, you know, be violence against them and their bodies.”
Of the 4 women who came forward, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson tells WRBL, in part,
“Two allegations remain under investigation and ICE continues to follow all appropriate protocol to notify, report, and investigative requirements. Any individual – ICE employee or contractor – suspected of sexual abuse or assault is immediately removed from contact with detained individuals until the completion of the investigation.”U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Spokesperson
ICE would not confirm to WRBL whether the nurse named in the report is still employed at Stewart Detention Center.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act or PREA was implemented in 2003, as the United States first federal law put in place to deter the sexual assault of prisoners. This opened the door for PREA audits within the jail system.
Stewart Detention Center passed the most recent PREA facility audit in May 2021, months before the alleged incidents. They completed corrective action in January 2022. The audit revealed 13 sexual abuse allegations. Four of which were staff on detainees. None of those resulted in criminal charges against staff.
“This is something that happens in many detention centers, this is not an isolated issue. It’s not isolated or something that only happened at Stewart. The violence against them and against immigrants, against our communities, is very real.”Amilcar Valencia – Executive Director, El Refugio
Advocacy groups like the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights say that after years of, “abuse, medical neglect, and human rights violations,” they are calling for the shutdown of Stewart Detention Center.
Below is a copy of the 18-page Stewart Detention Center complaint.