Hawaii warden prevails in lawsuit alleging discrimination

A federal jury found Tuesday that a warden at a jail in Hawaii did not subject female inmates to sexual humiliation and discrimination, and did not retaliate against a jail social worker who brought the suit.

After a week of deliberations, the jury voted unanimously in favor of defendants Neal Wagatsuma and the state of Hawaii.

Former jail social worker Carolyn Ritchie's lawsuit accused Wagatsuma of forcing women Kauai Community Correctional Center to watch films depicting rape, and to divulge details about their sexual pasts while being filmed.

Wagatsuma testified during the trial that the violent sexual films were part of a program he created that includes what he calls "shame therapy."

He said there have long been rumors he shows inmates pornography, but "I would never do that."

The warden showed films such as "Finding Mr. Goodbar," a 1970s drama in which the female protagonist is raped and murdered, court records showed.

Wagatsuma said he yells and uses profanity during the sessions. Words such as "whore" and "batuna," a Hawaii slang term for a woman who trades sex for crystal meth, were used in appropriate contexts, he said.

Ritchie's lawsuit said that woman had come to her to complain about the sessions. It also alleged the warden denied women the same work release opportunities as men.