Jun 26, 2014 7:39 PM by associated press
Arizona's workplace safety agency confirmed Thursday that it has launched a review of the rape of a teacher inside a state prison classroom.
The teacher was alone in a classroom with no guard nearby when a convicted rapist assaulted her.
The Arizona Department of Occupational Safety review came a week after a report by The Associated Press highlighted concerns about how the Jan. 30 assault occurred.
The agency said the review was launched as a result of those reports about the rape at the Eyman state prison southeast of Phoenix.
The review doesn't mean a full investigation will be done, agency spokeswoman Rachel Brockway said.
The agency can't give the state Department of Corrections notice that it plans to investigate, and if the agency does proceed it is barred from discussing it unless a citation is issued and no litigation is underway, Brockway said.
The Department of Corrections did not report the assault to ADOSH. It is only required to report incidents in which there is a fatality or more than three people are hospitalized.
A corrections spokesman said the department would have no immediate comment.
Officials previously said there were no security issue at the prison but they are now adding cameras in classrooms. Non-guards statewide were issued pepper spray in the weeks following the assault, but a spokesman said that had already been planned.
The attack occurred at the prison's Meadows Unit, which houses about 1,300 rapists, child molesters and other sex offenders. The teacher was administering a high school equivalency test to about a half-dozen inmates in a classroom with no guard nearby and only a radio to summon help.
The Department of Corrections issued only a bare-bones press release after the attack, but the AP pieced together what had happened based on interviews and investigatory reports obtained under the Arizona Public Records Act.
The teacher told investigators that she screamed for help, but none came. Afterward, inmate Jacob Harvey tried to use her radio to call for help. It had apparently been changed to a channel the unit's guards didn't use, so Harvey let the woman use a phone, according to the reports.
A former deputy warden at the prison, Carl ToersBijns, said the assault highlights chronic understaffing and lax security policies that put staff members at risk.
State prison officials, however, dismiss the concerns. They say the assault at the prison is a risk that comes with the job of overseeing violent prison inmates.
The state safety agency can issued citations if it finds the prison violated worker safety laws. It can also consult with prison officials on how to improve its safety standards.
The woman was treated and released from a hospital after the assault and has filed a worker's compensation claim against the state. The AP does not usually identify victims of sexual assault and she did not want to comment on the case.
Harvey, 20, was charged last month with sexual assault, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon. A public defender was appointed, and he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. The public defender assigned to his case has declined to comment.
Harvey was in the first year of a 30-year sentence for the brutal home invasion rape of a suburban Phoenix woman in 2011.
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