Judge: Rapist should pay $10M to Arizona prison teacher

Posted at 9:55 AM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 13:31:30-04

A federal magistrate is recommending a convicted sex offender who raped an Arizona prison teacher be ordered to pay her $10 million in damages.

The woman who was raped inside a prison classroom in January 2014 has already received a $3 million settlement from the state.

The rape led to an overhaul of security arrangements for Arizona prison teachers and other unsworn staff members. They were issued pepper spray, cameras were placed in classrooms and the frequency of security checks was increased.

There's little chance of collecting from Jacob Harvey if U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton accepts the recommendation from the magistrate, said her attorney, Scott Zwillinger. But he could inherit money or receive cash from his tribe, which owns several Arizona casinos.

Harvey presented no defense and refused to participate in court hearings, leading to the magistrate John Z. Boyle's Aug. 3 recommendation that a default judgment be entered against him.

Harvey was just 20 and in the first year of a 30-year term for raping a suburban Phoenix woman when he assaulted the teacher. Last year, he was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to raping the teacher.

"Yes, he's been sentenced to prison for the rest of his life, but this is a different part of justice," Zwillinger said. "He might be entitled to money going forward -- whether that's from the tribe, from a family member or something else.

"He's not likely to get out of prison, but who knows, and he should have to pay for what he did whether that's now or 25 years from now."

The Associated Press has not named the teacher because she is a victim of a sexual assault, but in interviews with the AP she blamed the corrections department for not protecting her. In a letter her lawyer read at Harvey's sentencing, she said she remained traumatized by the event.

"At one point after the rape I wished inmate Harvey had just killed me because death seemed like a relief compared to the hell I was living," her statement said. "While I may have wanted to die shortly after the rape, I now have a greater purpose and will to live."

Harvey is a member of the Tohono O'Odham tribe, which operates several casinos. The southern Arizona tribe has in the past distributed cash from casino earnings to enrolled members, although it hasn't done so in years.

The state's workplace safety agency, knows as the Arizona Industrial Commission, fined the Corrections Department $14,000 for failing to protect the teacher. The department appealed and in a settlement reached early this year, the Commission waived the fine because prison officials said they had spent $600,000 on security improvements. The Corrections Department did not admit wrongdoing.