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U.S. Settling Abuse Cases After Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty

Colin Akparanta, a former correctional officer in a Manhattan federal jail, admitted in 2020 to sexually abusing seven female prisoners. He pleaded guilty to abusing one and depriving her of her civil rights and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. A price is still being paid by his victims and the government, the New York Times reports. In recent weeks, the government paid $3 million to settle a lawsuit filed by three women who said they were sexually abused by Akparanta while being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center. That followed a $1.18 million settlement by the government last year in a suit brought by three other women with similar sexual abuse claims against Akparanta. Akparanta, 46, was indicted in 2019, accused of using his official authority to engage in abusive sexual contact with female prisoners at the now-closed center between 2012 and 2018.

In some cases, prosecutors have said, he abused victims in the “Bubble,” a control room out of the view of security cameras. In other cases, he digitally penetrated victims being held in solitary confinement through a slot in their cell door. Other victims were abused in their own cells, lawsuits alleged. Akparanta told his victims not to tell anyone. “He would take away their privileges; he would change their cell assignments, basically flaunting his power and telling them that he’s close with the warden, nothing will ever come out of it,” said Jaehyun Oh, a lawyer who represented the plaintiffs in the $3 million settlement. The payments are just the most recent setback for New York City’s federal lockups, which over the years have held defendants, most of them waiting for trials, often in some of the nation’s highest-profile prosecutions. Conditions at the MCC deteriorated so much that the Justice Department last August said it would close the jail, at least temporarily. The Bureau of Prisons website says there are no inmates currently housed there.

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