HOUSTON (CN) - A jailer raped a 15-year-old detainee after plying her with candy, and unknown to the jailer, it was caught on videotape, the girl's parents claim in Federal Court.
Michelle and Danny Hall sued Harris County, the executive director of its juvenile probation department Thomas Brooks and its former correctional officer Robert Robinson, for their daughter M.S.H.
The Halls say their daughter was jailed in the Harris County Juvenile Justice Center in downtown Houston for about two months.
"It was during this time when defendant, Robert Emerson Robinson, age 28, a juvenile correction officer assigned to the boys' unit at the HCJJC, began to approach M.S.H. and use his power as a corrections officer to form a relationship and 'groom' her for sexual advances," the Halls say.
"Despite being assigned to the boys' unit, Robinson visited the girls' unit as often as three times per week to speak and manipulate M.S.H. Robinson had no trouble accessing the girls unit or having a fellow colleagues cover for him when he decided to pay 'special visits' to plaintiff.
"The absence of adequate procedures and the failure to follow procedures by HCJJC staff allowed Robinson to continue his predatory behavior.
"The grooming of M.S.H. began with Robinson's visits in which he gave M.S.H. food and candy. His visits quickly escalated with quid pro quo requests that exchanged gifts for genital fondling and touching."
The Halls say Harris County's juvenile jail has no rules in place to prevent male officers from "effectively unlimited and unsupervised access to the female detainees."
Nor, they say, does the jail have procedures in place for detainees to blow the whistle on officers' predatory behavior without fear of retribution.
"On or about May 23, 2012, on the eve of M.S.H.'s transfer, Robinson's harassment culminated into the rape of a minor," the complaint states. "Robinson, aware of M.S.H.'s pending transfer, told her that he would visit her the night before she was to leave.
"As per the usual and customary practice of the facility, Robinson was allowed to abandon his post on the 5th floor of the boys' unit and enter the girls' unit undisturbed. He was allowed to enter M.S.H.'s room, with the lights out, and rape her. Unknown to Robinson, the rape was captured on video.
"Plaintiff M.S.H. has suffered severe and debilitating emotional trauma as a result of the sexual assault.
"Defendant Robinson has been charged with sexual assault of a minor and is currently on bail awaiting trial."
The Halls want no less than $2 million in damages for civil rights violations, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
They are represented by Houston attorney Keith Lapeze.