Rikers Island

Anthony Behar/Sipa Press

Settlement awarded to woman raped during Rikers confinement

February 11, 2019 - 3:05 pm
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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A woman who was raped while in pre-trial confinement at Rikers Island will receive a substantial settlement from the city.

The Legal Aid Society along with Cravath, Swaine, & Moore LLP made the announcement Monday, on behalf of their client known only as Jane Doe. They say she was awarded $500,000 after being repeatedly raped, sexually abused, and harassed by two correction officers.

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Officer Jose Cosme pled guilty to a criminal sex act, and was required to register as a sex offender. Leonard McNeil remains employed by the DOC, according to the announcement.

The victim says McNeil and Cosme conspired to rape her, causing severe trauma.

According to the suit, Doe was ordered to clean Cosme's office in an isolated area, where he trapped and raped her. During one encounter, she claims he bit a callus off of his finger and threatened her with violence.

"If I can do this to myself, imagine what I'll do to you," he said, according to court papers.

The suit also alleges that other correction officers observed Doe engage in sexual acts with McNeil, but said nothing.

Following one alleged rape at the hands of Cosme, Jane Doe mailed pieces of a t-shirt that she had been wearing to her sister and a friend to preserve DNA evidence.

She claims that after she reported the abuse, she became subject to retaliation by inmates and correction officers including threats, verbal abuse, and denial of basic necessities including soap.

“No compensation will ever come close to righting the sexual violence our client suffered at the hands of Jose Cosme and Leonard McNeil while at Rikers Island,” said Marlen Bodden and Barbara Hamilton, Staff Attorneys with the Special Litigation Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “This settlement delivers some justice and further underscores the culture of impunity that exists among correctional staff at NYC jails. We hope other people who have suffered similar trauma at Rikers Island or other local jails will speak out and seek justice.”

Attorneys with Cravath, Swaine, and Moore said the city must take the necessary steps to protect the constitutional rights of those in custody.