Mayra Soto, a Mexican transsexual, was forced by a guard at an immigrant detention center in Los Angeles to perform oral sex on him with the threat of violence, reports the Associated Press. The story was one of many allegations of guards’ taking advantage of immigrant detainees told to the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. Soto, 33, said guards moved her to a cell with accused murderers and rapists, which she “took this as another form of retaliation.”
The two-day hearing this week is the sixth held by the commission nationwide, and the first to focus on sexual abuse of immigrants held in federal detention facilities. The panel, led by a federal judge and made up of business leaders, academics, and human rights workers, was formed by Congress in 2003 to find ways of deterring prison rape — a crime that has claimed an estimated 1 million victims in 20 years. Hearings in five other cities have focused on juvenile victims, what corrections officials can do to prevent prison assaults, and how to streamline the reporting, investigation and prosecution of crimes. The panel is expected to report its findings to the president and Congress by 2008.