Civil Rights

Female lawyer detained in men's holding cell files federal lawsuit

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After being mistakenly identified as male and placed in a men’s holding cell more than 10 hours, a Dominican woman has filed a federal action against the Miami-Dade Corrections Department alleging negligence and civil rights violations.

Fior Pichardo de Veloz is a married mother of three and a lawyer, the Miami Herald, the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and NBC 6 report, and she was in the United States for a grandchild’s birth in November 2013. She was stopped at the Miami International Airport on decades-old federal drug warrant. Those charges were dropped after a few months.

After being detained at the airport, nursing staff determined that Pichardo had male reproductive organs, according to the lawsuit. “She was jailed for more than 10 hours among 40 men. She was being sexually harassed, she was being threatened with rape,” lawyer David Kubiliun told the Miami Herald.

Jailers at Metro West Detention Center, where she was held, eventually determined that something was wrong and moved her to an isolated cell and took “embarrassing” photos of her private parts, Kubiliun said. She was eventually moved to federal detention and the charges were dropped after a few months.

Pichardo is now back in the Dominican Republic, where she is a local elected official.

“She is going to need long-term psychiatric care,” Kubiliun told the Miami Herald.

Miami-Dade Corrections spokeswoman Chandra Gavin told the Associated Press that the department does not comment on pending litigation.

NBC 6 interviewed Pichardo in the Dominican Republic:

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