Lawsuit accuses former Lexington federal prison guard of raping female inmate

·3 min read

A woman who was being held at the Lexington Federal Medical Center as an inmate has filed a federal lawsuit accusing a guard at the facility of raping her and repeatedly sexually harassing her.

The woman, whose name was not used in the lawsuit, reported that Officer Christopher Brian Goodwin made inappropriate comments toward her and about her, before escalating his behavior to inappropriate touching and eventually rape, according to the complaint filed in federal court.

The woman reported the rape to a staff psychologist in January of 2020 and was later interviewed by investigators with the FBI, according to the lawsuit. She reported that in September of 2019, she was in an office for required work duty when Goodwin, who was supervising her crew, forcibly pulled her into a storage room, despite her attempts to escape, and raped her.

Evidence was collected and the woman was temporarily moved to the Fayette County Detention Center “for her safety” but she was later transferred back to the Federal Medical Center and Goodwin was still there, though he’d been transferred to the computer services division, according to the complaint.

After her return to the Federal Medical Center, the woman was retaliated against by guards for reporting what happened and eventually transferred to a federal facility in West Virginia, her attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. The transfer meant that her family would have to travel more than 7 hours to visit her and made in-person visitation by her children impossible, according to the lawsuit.

The woman suffered “physical and emotional injury, depression, post-traumatic stress, embarrassment” and other problems because of the alleged rape, according to the lawsuit.

“As a federal inmate, (her) options for escaping sexual assault or for resisting the sexually abusive conduct of a guard were limited,” the woman’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. “(She) — like all inmates at FMC Lexington — relied on employees to protect her from sexual abuse by guards and staff.”

Goodwin is no longer an employee of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the agency confirmed Wednesday. It was not released whether he was fired or quit.

The attorneys representing the woman in the recently filed lawsuit are also representing two other women who were held at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington as inmates and have reported similar experiences. Lawsuits are expected to be filed on behalf of those women in the coming weeks, said David Bryant, one of the attorney’s representing the woman.

“Prison employees assaulting and raping female inmates is a pervasive problem across the country,” the woman’s attorneys said in a statement. “The Federal Bureau of Prisons knew Officer Goodwin abused his power and authority by sexually preying on the very people he is paid to protect. The egregious and demented conduct visited upon vulnerable female victims in our prison system must stop.”

The woman filed an administrative claim in August of last year with the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, but the window for response or denial passed and “her claim is now considered denied, she has exhausted all obligatory administrative remedies, and this matter is ripened for the filing of this civil action,” her attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names Goodwin and the United States, in its capacity as overseer for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, as defendants in the case. The woman is seeking punitive and compensatory damages.

The complaint accuses Goodwin of assault and violating an inmate’s eighth amendment right to not have cruel or unusual punishment inflicted on her, according to court records. The lawsuit accuses the United States of negligence in failing to prevent the alleged assault.

The Lexington Federal Medical Center had no official comment on the case.