Assistant Warden Tells of Lax Investigations

9-21-05 - More than 1,850 "life endangerment claims" were filed by Allred Unit inmates in the 18 months that a gay burglary convict was imprisoned there, and several were his reports of being raped, according to testimony.

But prison employees investigating the complaints rarely talked to the suspected attackers, checked their criminal background or tried to obtain other evidence, assistant warden Richard Wathen testified Tuesday in a federal civil trial.

He was the first witness in the case stemming from a lawsuit filed by Roderick Keith Johnson, who seeks unspecified damages against Wathen and six other Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials.

Several prisoners were expected to testify Wednesday. Last year, a Wichita Falls grand jury did not indict 49 prisoners Johnson had accused of rape.

Johnson, 37, in prison from 2000 to 2003, says the officials refused to protect him from numerous rapes, extortion and being sold as a sex slave at the prison that has about 3,600 inmates.