The Best Defense? Pennsylvania Blames Prison Employee For Her Own Rape By Inmate

1411663301223_wps_10_Omar_Best_Best_was_convicIt appears that the Uber Taxi driver discussed today is not the only person who is reportedly using the “she asked for it” defense to sexual assault. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office is blaming a former state prison clerk for her own rape in litigation against the prison. The 24-year-old typist was working at the state prison at Rockview in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania in 2013 when she was choked unconscious and raped for 27 minutes by Omar Best, an image convicted three times previously of sex-related crimes. Worse yet, Best had been transferred from a different state prison for assaulting a female assistant but the prison still allowed him unsupervised visits with female employees.

The lawsuit alleges that the clerk offices were actually moved from part of the prison that was off limits to inmates to a less secure location before the rape. There were allegedly no locked doors between the offices and the cell blocks.

Best was convicted of the rape in May, but a senior deputy attorney general wrote that the woman “acted in a manner which in whole or in part contributed to the events.”

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office insists that it was merely presenting all possible defenses including contributing negligence. However, there are a variety of defense that you can chose not to make. For example, they could claim that she raped the inmate but that was thankfully rejected.

Before this rape, Best had been convicted three times prior of sex-related offenses. He pleaded guilt to indecent assault in 1995. In 2010, he was tied to the abduction and rape of an 18-year-old woman in Philadelphia but only sentenced to 7 to 15 years. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to rape and robbery of another woman and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

He then reportedly assaulted another female employee at a prison in Graterfordand was transferred to the state prison at Rockview. Moreover, the victim allegedly complained twice to her boss — about a week before the attack — that she felt uncomfortable and unsafe with Best coming into her office. While she was told that Best would not be allowed to come to the office, he went to her office pretending to be taking out her trash. When she tried to blow a whistle as an alert, no one heard the sound and she was choked into unconsciousness. A later investigation led to the firing of the superintendent, Marirosa Lamas and the hiring of 70 new corrections officers. They also moved the offices.

KGK-318x468However, the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (right) still maintained that she might be entirely responsible for her own rape. After the fallout, her office is saying that they might not pursue the claim at trial. That would be wise since the jury would likely to have to be restrained in its disgust and anger. The filing was made under Kane’s name and argued:

“Some or all of the damages plaintiff have alleged are in part, or substantially due, to the acts of third parties other than the answering defendants, and/or plaintiff acted in a manner which in whole or in part contributed to the events which led to the damages plaintiff has alleged in her complaint.”

Kane also denied such assertions that the woman did not want Best in her office despite strong evidence to that effect at the rape trial.

To often, prosecutors and government lawyers will adopt a scorched earth policy toward those accusing the government of misconduct. Such argument rarely make the news but they are being made, in this case, in the name of all Pennsylvania citizens. The detachment from not just reality but decency in this case truly shocked the conscience.

Source: KFOR

71 thoughts on “The Best Defense? Pennsylvania Blames Prison Employee For Her Own Rape By Inmate”

  1. “There are times when prudence and common sense dictate that, at the time you file your answer, you not assert every defense that might, in theory, be available after you do discovery.”

    No, I’m sorry, that is incorrect, if you want to be the guy who inadvertently waives a defense, feel free. If P’s complaint has a cause of action for negligence, in this case under the theory of breaching a duty to protect the defendant; even if the calculus looks like its 100-0 on the face of the P’s complaint, its not so far fetched that the defendant could have engaged in conduct that willfully violated a safety protocol.

    The problem here is that laymen conflate the crime of rape, which is in no way justified by contributory negligence whatsoever, the rapist is OBVIOUSLY guilty of rape even if she violated a safety protocol versus the third party tort of failure to protect (negligence) which ABSOLUTELY would be mitigated by contributory negligence (IF TRUE)

    Plead affirmative and separate defenses liberally, look for specific defenses based on even IMPROBABLE factual scenarios.

    1. Charlie – the difference with Arizona is they are not claiming that the teacher caused her own rape.

  2. Darren-

    Thank you!


    Thanks for the poem.

    Free NY PIcs-

    There are times when prudence and common sense dictate that, at the time you file your answer, you not assert every defense that might, in theory, be available after you do discovery. That is particularly true when you represent the government.

    There will be times when the “cost” to the government of asserting a particular defense (or of taking or not taking a particular action in litigation) will be greater than the “cost” of not asserting the defense. Witness the public outcry evidenced by Prof. Turley’s blog post. Asserting the defense of contributory negligence in this particular context has created a firestorm. You may or may not be able to measure this “cost” to the PA government in actual dollars, but I am fairly certain that this “cost” is greater than the amount that the government will save by asserting the defense in the case.

    If I had been in the PA AG’s shoes, I would have drafted a memo to the file explaining my judgment that it is prudent to not assert contributory negligence in this case and would have put in the file, with a copy sent to the governor’s office. I would have discussed it with my deputies and either obtained their concurrence or noted their disapproval of my decision and explained why I disagreed with them. If anyone criticized me after the fact, I would politely tell them to stuff it.

    And by the way, I’ve served my time as government attorney, including a stint as an AUSA. So I’ve written some memos to the file. And had to defend them later.

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  4. @Don de Drain

    We need an Irish Poem for this! Or maybe a magic charm to keep it from happening???

    A Filter Philter???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    My comment was very germane,
    But WordPress ate it up just the same.
    Oh please set it free
    And return it to me!
    Even though it was possibly lame.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  5. @ Paul

    Yes. The only thing we don’t have is sharing of actual physical books from other public libraries. Borrowing a rare book from, say San Francisco to us. We are mostly a reading library with some reference books. The children’s section is really great though.

    I volunteer every other week and fill in when needed. I LOVE it.

    This is what grassroots is all about.!!

  6. FWIW, here is another example of the Defendant making the contributory negligence claim, this time between Wal Mart and Tracy Morgan:

    On Monday, Walmart delivered its answer in a New Jersey federal court to 30 Rock actor Tracy Morgan’s lawsuit arising from a six-car accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. Among nine affirmative defenses, Walmart says that injuries “were caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device.”

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. DBQ-

    Good thing you don’t have any of them nasty, good fer nuttin’ union folks. You might get …… cooties! One of my grandfathers was an early organizer of the union in his blue collar trade, right after WWI. it wasn’t very easy for him. I still have his union cap and proudly wear it, along with my cooties. The union my grandfather worked hard to organize made life much better for a lot of people.

    I think you can rightfully be very proud of your library without taking a cheap shot at unions.

    And to post something on the topic of this thread, they don’t teach common sense in law school.

  8. The prison is being sued for negligence though, quite possibly deserved. The prison pleading contributory negligence says nothing about justifying the rape which obviously remains criminal. That doesn’t mean the prison employee didn’t possibly engage in activity that most would consider to be contributory negligence of some sort. We’re not justifying the rape, we’re mitigating the negligence of a third party, its a big difference and a point that should be made. Not to mention, this appears to be in the pleadings stage. Every answer I’ve plead to torts pleads contributory negligence as a matter of course. (I’m not taking the chance on waiving it)

  9. DBQ, What an absolutely heartwarming story. God bless all you folks. I have a friend who retired a couple years ago from the Atlanta Public Library system. He was a natural. Worked in the inner city branches and changed kids lives.

  10. @ Paul and Nick.

    Re; Libraries

    We are so far from county services and have no library or even a bookmobile because the County decided it was too expensive….. Yeah. Pay taxes and get nothing in return.

    There are some very wealthy people in this general vicinity [snowbirds from the Coastal enclaves. Some movers and shakers and a couple of Hollywood names. We are sort of a resort area]. We have a lot of dedicated readers and a need for a library, we decided to set up our OWN non-profit library. The library was started in 1988. The buildings were donated by one very generous person.(who also got a nifty tax write off) The books are all donations from local people, from businesses who have agricultural interests in the area and from libraries (public and college) who are downsizing or culling their books. We have an extensive Spanish language section and have ESL teachers using our facility. Home school teachers have regular classes and many people use the conference room as well. When I retired from my financial planning business I donated the conference table and leather executive chairs as well as filing cabinets and presentation equipment.

    As a result we have a library that rivals the ones provided by the gubbment. Computerized check-in in and check out system…donated by a sales rep who sells nationally and who has a summer home here. Computers for public use via the Gates Foundation. Free wireless. Hardback books and tons and tons of paperbacks. ALL manned by volunteers NOT union workers with padded salaries and benefit packages. It is a well oiled machine….AND we don’t need the government and… of all….they can’t tell us what to do.

    1. DBQ – our library belongs to a cooperative that has access to online books, magazines, music, etc. that can be download to your phone, tablet, PC, etc. Is yours set up that way?

  11. Paul, Not the ones I go to. San Diego has a good library system, better than liberal Madison. When I would get a new assignment as a PI, prior to internet, my first stop would always be the local library, then it was the best place to get background, besides the courthouse and cops. City criss cross directories were invaluable, getting names and phone#’s of neighbors. Hell, nobody has landlines anymore. I have been to hundreds, maybe a thousand libraries in my career. All the librarians got to know me. They are great professionals.

  12. I read an interesting piece on about reading on kindle, computer, etc., vs. reading on paper. We read more deeply when we read the old fashioned way. I do a fair share of hard copy reading but kindle has become more and more part of my reading regimen. I will be getting more library books so I don’t get kindle brain.

  13. Anonymous,

    You have had two more comments deleted under our civility rule. You will have to comply with our rule or refrain from comments or move on to another blog.

  14. I cannot imagine the lack of intelligence that set up the offices such that employees, except for COs, are not protected from inmates. The prison set up an unsafe work environment and didn’t fix it after it received complaints. The wise course of action would be a settlement, a big one, and sooner rather than later.

    Olly, he may have been tried in 2011 for a rape that occurred before he was incarcerated for the one in 2010.

  15. Yeah, I think I got that, boy-genius. (I understood perfectly, Paul, without and before your “explanation.” (You’re another presumptuous one.))

    1. Anonymous,

      You have continued to cut and paste the identical comment over and over again. If you continue, you will be suspended from further commentary.

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