Two transgender women said they were raped while in custody at Brooklyn’s federal Metropolitan Detention Center after officials refused to place them with female inmates, according to separate federal lawsuits filed in US District Court in the Eastern District of New York and obtained by Gay City News.
Tiana Miller and Lorindo Powell, who both went on to be convicted of charges stemming from their actions in scamming senior citizens, were locked up at the jail after their arrests in May of 2017. In their respective suits, Powell and Miller each stated that when they entered the detention facility they were forced to be housed alongside men against their wishes.
Miller, who hails from Jamaica, said she spent two months in 2017 enduring beatings and rapes by two male inmates, according to her suit. She was finally transferred after she was raped in October of 2017, according to the suit.
“I was sexually assaulted by other inmates,” Miller told Jamaican news outlet The Star. “It was very difficult. They didn’t move me over to the female side when the abuse initially happened but they did when the guys had started fighting over me and after my lawyer got involved.”
When officials at the jail, which is located at 80 29th Street between Second and Third Avenue in the Industry City section, finally moved Miller to a holding area for women she endured further abuse, she said. Bureau of Prisons correction officers went on to harass and intimidate her, according to the lawsuit.
“I served the first five months of my sentence on the ‘male’ side because they needed some form of classification as it relates to my gender, although my documents state that I am a female,” Miller explained to The Star.
Miller was receiving hormone therapy at the time of her incarceration and had already undergone gender confirmation surgery.
Meanwhile, Powell elaborated on the abuse she suffered before she was transferred out of the men’s section of the jail.
“Almost every day between May 18, 2017 and January of 2018 when I was ultimately transferred, I was sexually assaulted, raped, abused, forced to perform acts of sodomy upon other inmates who were known ‘Bloods’ and ‘YG’ gang members,” Powell’s stated in court documents.
It is not clear whether Miller and Powell were intimate partners or simply friends who together carried out the crimes for which they were convicted.
The Star reported that Powell and Miller were busted for scamming a Maryland-based couple suffering from dementia, a 79-year-old teacher from Brooklyn, an 89-year-old man in Florida, and a woman in her 90s living at a retirement home. The pair scammed the seniors by informing them they won the lottery and requiring them to disclose personal information about their finances or pay “taxes,” according to the Daily News.
Miller told the Star she is worried that she could be deported back to Jamaica, but she has sought asylum in the United States.
“There were more opportunities and acceptance for transgender people in the United States,” Miller said. “Jamaica is not safe to make a choice like this one. I constantly had to live in fear and was constantly discriminated against. The thing is it wasn’t just by strangers alone but family also.”
The US Bureau of Prisons declined comment for this story, citing the pending litigation. The attorneys for Powell and Miller did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment for this story.