Trans woman sues Georgia jail for mistreatment, sexual abuse

A transgender woman in Rome filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Floyd County Jail officials denied her medical treatment, kept her in solitary confinement and physically and sexually abused her.

Ashley Diamond filed the suit against the jail, Sheriff Tim Burkhalter and several other jail officials in U.S. District Court on Oct. 2. Diamond is the same woman whose 2015 federal lawsuit forced the state to change its hormone treatment policy for trans inmates.

Diamond (photo) was released in 2015, but she was arrested again in December 2017 and January 2018. She was then arrested in Rome in August on misdemeanor obstruction and felony escape charges, probation violations and parole violations, according to Northwest Georgia News. 

Diamond makes several allegations against Floyd County Jail officials in her handwritten federal lawsuit. The claims include her being denied hormone treatments.

“I remain unstable with suicidal ideations and have had to deal with subtherapeutic estrogen and mental health meds,” she wrote.

Diamond also claimed she told a jail psychiatrist about “physical and sexual staff abuse,” but the psychiatrist said they “didn’t arise to her as urgent.”

Diamond accused a “Deputy D. Womack” of excessive force and sexual battery. No additional details about that claim are included in the lawsuit. Womack is one of the defendants in the suit.

Diamond said jail staff referred to her as “he-she-it,” placed her in solitary confinement for 24 hours a day and denied her access to showers, a phone and recreation time. 

She’s asking that the jail provide separate housing for trans inmates. The lawsuit is also seeking punitive damages for pain and suffering.

Sheriff says no trans accommodations

 

Burkhalter said the jail will not provide a separate area for trans inmates, according to Northwest Georgia News. He added that Diamond is no longer in solitary confinement and has been moved to the men’s general population unit at the request of Diamond’s family. 

Burkhalter said Diamond is the only trans inmate in the jail, so she won't be housed in a separate unit.

“For someone who makes as many complaints as (Diamond) does, (Diamond) sure is a frequent customer,” Burkhalter told Northwest Georgia News.

Diamond hasn't paid the $400 filing fee for the lawsuit and the court warned on Oct. 15 that she has 30 days to do so or file for pauper status.

Diamond filed a similar federal lawsuit against the Floyd County Jail in 2012, but it was dismissed after several attempts to get her to pay the filing fee or request pauper status, according to Northwest Georgia News. 

Diamond began serving an 11-year prison sentence in 2012 after she was convicted on several charges, including burglary, theft by taking and obstruction, stemming from incidents in 2009 and 2011 in Floyd County. She was released in 2015.

In a federal lawsuit, Diamond alleged that she was repeatedly raped, denied medical treatments and otherwise abused while in Georgia prisons. Diamond's complaints and lawsuit – filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2015 – pushed the state Department of Corrections to change its hormone treatment policy for trans inmates.

Diamond's case and the lawsuit gained widespread media coverage and attention from the U.S. Justice Department. The state settled the lawsuit in 2016 and agreed to pay Diamond $250,000.