Ex-staffer sues Headingley jail over alleged sexual assault
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A Winnipeg woman has filed a lawsuit against Headingley Correctional Centre, claiming jail officials knew her co-worker had a history of sexual harassment when he allegedly sexually assaulted her as they worked an overnight shift together.
Former correctional officer Narada Hines is named as a defendant in a statement of claim filed in Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench last week. Hines, 42, is set to stand trial in September on a single count of sexual assault.
“Hines’ employment provided the opportunity to commit the assault on the plaintiff,” the statement of claim alleges. “The plaintiff had previously advised her superiors that Hines’ conduct toward her was inappropriate and unwelcome, but Hines and the plaintiff were nonetheless scheduled to work an overnight shift in close proximity to each other.”
Hines had supervisory responsibility over part-time corrections officers at the jail when around July 2016 he was stripped of his supervisory duties after he was found to have sexually harassed a colleague, the statement of claim alleges.
Full-time correction officers at the jail were in a “de facto position of authority” over part-time officers, who were considered lower in status, alleges the woman, who began working at the jail in August 2017.
“This culture created an atmosphere whereby part-time (officers) were subject to bullying, hazing and poor treatment by their full-time colleagues,” says the statement of claim.
In early 2020, the woman told a full-time colleague Hines had been sending her sexually explicit messages and photographs, “despite the woman advising Hines that these actions were unwelcome and asking him to stop.”
“This culture created an atmosphere whereby part-time (officers) were subject to bullying, hazing and poor treatment by their full-time colleagues.”
The co-worker recommended the woman address the issue with Hines directly, which she did, but “Hines persisted.” The woman complained to a supervisor, who took no action, and Hines was not subject to any disciplinary action, says the statement of claim.
In July 2020, Hines and the woman were working the same overnight shift together when she alleges Hines sexually assaulted her in a staff room. The woman alleges she was lying on a sofa when Hines made repeated comments about oral sex as she pretended to be sleeping. Later, after she rebuffed his request for oral sex, Hines approached the woman on the sofa, reached under her shirt and fondled and sucked on her breast as she “froze in fear and disbelief,” says the statement of claim.
The woman reported the alleged assault to management five days later and went on sick leave.
Management at the jail later told the woman if she was unable to return to work, her leave would be without pay “because she was ‘choosing’ to be off work,” alleges the statement of claim.
An investigation by correctional centre management substantiated the woman’s complaint and Hines was fired the following November.
The woman alleges that during the investigation she was denied access to her employment benefits and was later denied a salary increase because she had not accumulated enough work hours due to her time on leave.
She alleges jail superintendent Michelle Duncan told her she “was not the first and would not be the last” employee at the jail to experience sexual assault or harassment at the jail.
The woman says she suffers from post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety and has had to seek employment elsewhere at a lower salary.
The province is also named as a defendant in the statement of claim, and is identified with Headingley Correctional Centre as a “corrections defendant.”
“The negligent and dismissive response of the corrections defendants to the plaintiff’s prior complaints about Hines and their treatment of the plaintiff after the sexual assault and throughout the investigation was… offensive, harsh, vindictive, reprehensible and malicious,” alleges the statement of claim.
“The negligent and dismissive response of the corrections defendants to the plaintiff’s prior complaints about Hines and their treatment of the plaintiff after the sexual assault and throughout the investigation was… offensive, harsh, vindictive, reprehensible and malicious.”
Hines was in a position of trust and authority over the woman and assaulted her knowing it would cause her “humiliation, indignity, and physical, emotional and mental distress and injury.”
Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union president Kyle Ross would not comment directly on the case, but said in an email all workers have a right to a workplace free of bullying, harassment and violence.
“We press employers to promote a healthy workplace culture and to investigate and take action on all allegations of sexual harassment and assault,” Ross said.
The allegations have not been proven in court and Hines is presumed innocent.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.