Prison-hostage rape victim blames other victim
Legal repercussions from Arizona’s longest prison-hostage saga continue dragging through court five years later, but with a curious twist: One of two women sexually assaulted during the drama is blaming the other rape victim for allowing the violence to get started.
The Maricopa County Superior Court suit was filed three years ago by Lois Fraley, a correctional officer at Lewis Prison who was held in a guard tower for 15 days during 2004 by two inmates, Ricky Wassenaar and Steven Coy.
Defendants include Canteen Correctional Services Corporation, which prepared inmate meals in a kitchen where the incident began, as well as a company employee who was raped by Coy.
In the ongoing case, attorney Joel Robbins, who represents Fraley, alleges that the female kitchen employee failed to close and lock an office door as required by prison rules. As a result, the suit says, Wassenaar and Coy were able to enter the office and overpower the Canteen employee and a DOC guard in the room.
While Coy raped the kitchen worker, Wassenaar went to a nearby guard tower where Fraley and detention officer Jason Auch were on duty. According Department of Correction records, Auch failed to verify who was at the door before pressing an electronic buzz-in device. Wassenaar entered the tower, subdued both guards and gained control of an arsenal. Coy then joined him. Auch was released midway through the ordeal, while Fraley was held hostage and terrorized for two weeks.
A peaceful surrender was arranged with both inmates promised out-of-state transfers to complete their prison terms.
Fraley’s lawsuit says Coy was able to fashion a homemade shank in the kitchen using metal bands removed from milk cases that had been banned because of previous incidents.
Although Auch’s decision to open the tower door was crucial later on, the suit argues, the rampage could have been averted if kitchen employee upheld their security responsibilities: “Ms. Fraley would never have had to endure the two weeks in hell but for Canteen’s conduct.”
Canteen Corp. contends in legal filings that the company was responsible for preparing food, not overseeing inmates or maintaining security.
The trial has been tentatively scheduled for late 2011.
Meanwhile, Coy and Wassenaar – both convicted on multiple felony charges in the escape attempt – are serving consecutive life sentences in out-of-state prisons.
The kitchen employee is not in this report because the Republic does not identify rape victims unless they have gone public. Fraley, no longer a prison guard, has openly discussed her experience and operates a foundation on behalf of hostage victims.