Criminal Justice

Prison teacher, left alone in room with convicted rapist, is raped, stabbed

A teacher at an Arizona prison was stabbed and raped after being left alone in a room with a convicted rapist, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.

Details of the attack—which occurred Jan. 30 at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Eyman—were pieced together through interviews and internal documents obtained by the AP under the Arizona Public Records Act. The records highlight major security lapses at the facility, the AP says.

At the time of the attack, the teacher was administering a high school equivalency test to about a half-dozen inmates in a classroom in a section of the prison housing about 1,300 rapists, child molesters and other sex offenders, according to the AP. There was no guard nearby, and the teacher was equipped only with a two-way radio.

After the other inmates left, Jacob Harvey, a convicted rapist and the last remaining inmate in the room, asked the teacher if he could use the bathroom. Then he stabbed her in the head with a pen, forced her to the ground and raped her, according to the documents.

The teacher told investigators that she screamed for help, but got no response. Afterward, Harvey tried to summon guards on her radio, then let her use a phone to call for help.

Carl ToersBijns, a former deputy warden at the prison, told the AP the assault highlights chronic understaffing problems and lax security practices at the prison that put staff members at risk.

“Here you’ve got a guy that commits a hell of a crime … and he’s put into an environment that actually gives him an opportunity to do his criminality because of a lack of staffing,” ToersBijns said.

State prison officials dismissed such concerns, saying assaults are a risk that come with the job. They did say, however, that cameras are currently being installed in classrooms at all state prisons.

Harvey was charged last month with sexual assault, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. Harveys public defender declined to comment to the AP.

The teacher, who has filed a worker’s compensation claim against the state, declined to comment on the case, the AP says.

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