Kentucky

Former private prison worker charged with rape

A former employee of a privately run prison in Floyd County was indicted Tuesday for allegedly raping a female inmate.

A Floyd County grand jury indicted Charles Prater, whose age was not known, on a felony charge of first-degree rape, officials said.

Prater was fired June 23 after management at the Otter Creek Correctional Center found out about the accusations against him, said Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen.

At least four other employees as the prison have been charged with misdemeanor sexual abuse in the past three years. One case is set for trial later this month, court records show.

Prater is the first prison official to face felony charges.

Hawaii, which also has a contract with CCA to house female inmates in the Wheelwright prison, recently pulled its inmates out of Kentucky because of safety concerns.

Kentucky has more than 400 female inmates at the facility. At least one Kentucky inmate has also filed a federal lawsuit after she was sexually abused and the officer was tried and convicted. Lawyers who represent several Hawaii inmates have said it is likely that other suits will follow.

Numerous inmates have come forward with complaints of sexual assault since media reports about the prison have been published, said Kentucky State Police Trooper Mike Goble, spokesman for the Pikeville police post.

Investigators are preparing to present another rape accusation to a Floyd County grand jury the next time it meets, Goble said. "We're trying to sort out what's legitimate, and who's trying to jump on the bandwagon," he said.

CCA is cooperating with investigators, Owen said.

The Kentucky Department of Corrections is also doing its own investigation of sexual abuse at the facility, reviewing all cases going back to 2006. Cheryl Million, a spokeswoman for the department, said the agency's report will likely be completed sometime in the next week.

Kentucky officials have said they will not follow Hawaii's lead and remove inmates from the Wheelwright prison because there are no other available beds in Kentucky for female inmates. The Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women — the only state-run prison for women — typically operates at or above capacity.

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