Court revives dismissed Hawaii jail sex therapy lawsuit
Posted August 29
HONOLULU — A federal appeals court ruling Tuesday revived a woman's lawsuit that alleges she was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by being forced to participate in a therapy program involving "public sexual shaming" while incarcerated at a Hawaii jail.
A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a judge incorrectly applied a two-year statute of limitations in dismissing the lawsuit.
The ruling says she should have been allowed to amend her lawsuit to say she wasn't aware of her psychological trauma until after she was released from a jail on the island of Kauai.
Her 2014 lawsuit alleges the therapy program forced women inmates to stand at a lectern and detail their sexual histories before inmates and staff. The lawsuit also alleges the sessions were videotaped and shown to other inmates.
The lawsuit was dismissed after attorneys representing the state argued her claims were brought two years and two months after the sessions ended.
The ruling said it's reasonable she may not have known the program harmed her until after she stopped participating.
"We're delighted to be able to now pursue the case," said her attorney, Margery Bronster.
In a separate lawsuit, a jury found the warden did not subject women inmates to sexual humiliation and discrimination, and did not retaliate against a jail social worker who brought the suit.
Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin referenced the 2016 verdict in a statement on the 9th Circuit ruling: "The jury found the warden and state acted appropriately in their supervision of the nationally-recognized and award-winning Lifetime Stand program. If this case ultimately goes to trial, we expect the same result here."