"Offered a Tylenol" in response to rape in jail.

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January 3, 2012

 CONTACT:        In Lincoln: Amy Miller, (402) 476-8091, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

In Omaha: Angela Dunne, (402) 346-1132

 ACLU Nebraska sues Cass County for failure to respond to raped immigrant in detention

Detainee was “offered a Tylenol” and denied access to medical professionals.

LINCOLN - On Tuesday, ACLU Nebraska filed a lawsuit on behalf of Claudia Leiva Deras, alleging that officials failed to appropriately respond to the rape of Ms. Leiva Deras while detained in Cass County Jail.

Ms. Leiva Deras, a legal permanent resident living in Storm Lake, Iowa, was picked up by police after a 911 call reporting domestic violence and held in immigration detention in Cass County, NE.

The complaint alleges that during her over 4 month detention, Ms. Leiva Deras was sexually assaulted, “hit, kicked, beat and choked almost daily” by another inmate while in the care of Cass County jail, and that officials failed to provide proper post-rape care.

“By not responding to a rape in custody with appropriate medical, mental and legal care, officials at Cass County jail committed what amounts to cruel and unusual punishment,” said cooperating attorney Angela Dunne of Omaha firm Koenig?Dunne Divorce Law, PC, LLO.

In response to Ms. Leiva Deras' report of assaults and numerous requests for a doctor, Cass County jail officials refused her a doctor and instead only offered a Tylenol.

ACLU Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller considers this case “the inevitable result of a broken federal immigration system that now requires local counties to take on the responsibility of detaining thousands of individuals who should not be locked up in the first place.” ACLU Nebraska has received multiple complaints, including from detained citizens and legal permanent residents, some related to ICE's Secure Communities program.

“Proposed ‘show me your papers’ laws will only increase the frequency of abuse and neglect. Local tax payers end up paying the price for a failed federal immigration system," said Miller. “Cass County officials told Claudia that 'immigration doesn't pay for [a doctor].' By failing to acknowledge that Cass County was liable, regardless of immigration status, Nebraska tax payers will end up paying."

Attorneys were finally able to transfer Ms. Levia Deras to an immigration facility in Iowa, where immediately she was provided medical treatment, counseling and x-rays to determine if repeated head trauma was the cause of severe headaches. Ms. Leiva Deras was eventually released from detention as her legal status was recognized and she will become a naturalized citizen following the regular 5 year waiting period, fee and test.

“No one, even your worst enemy, should be treated this way,” said Ms. Leiva Deras during a recent visit with her attorneys. “I am standing up so this doesn't happen to any other woman.”

Read the full federal lawsuit online.


ABOUT: ACLU Nebraska and its diverse membership works in courts, the legislature and our communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States and Nebraska guarantee everyone in this state.

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