Rita Cosby - Live and Direct
A violation behind prison walls?
Inmate Pam Smart sues jail and guard for sexual assault
Pam Smart, in prison for conspiring to kill her husband, is suing the prison and a guard, who she claims sexually assaulted her. MSNBC-TV's Rita Cosby interviews Doctor Eleanor Pam, an expert on women and violence, as well as an adviser and family spokesperson for Pam Smart's family on what really goes on behind those prison walls.
Pam Smart is going to spend the rest of her life in prison for conspiring to kill her husband, that after an illicit affair with a 16-year-old student in a small New England town.
She's already served 16 years in prison, including doing time at the maximum security Bedford Hills facility in upstate New York, where she currently is behind bars.
Now, Smart is suing the prison and a male guard who she claims sexually assaulted her. Controversial pictures of her scantily clad published in a 2003 “National Enquirer” issue are what initiated this federal lawsuit.
Meantime, the New York attorney general's office is trying to dismiss the case.
Dr. Eleanor Pam, an expert on women and violence, as well as an adviser and family spokesperson for Pam Smart's family joined 'Live and Direct’ to discuss the suit.
RITA COSBY, HOST, 'LIVE AND DIRECT’: Eleanor, tell us, what does she say happened to her behind bars?
DR. ELEANOR PAM, SPOKESPERSON FOR PAM SMART: She says that she was raped by a guard and that he told her that, if she told anybody about it, he would kill her family, because he had access to the information about where they lived. All visitors sign in and register, so guards have that information.
COSBY: Was this repeatedly or is this one time or—and how long was this?
PAM: He came in one time, and then, two days later, came back. And he said that he didn't want to lose his job in case she told, so he needed some extra insurance. And he took some pictures of her.
He demanded first that she strip naked, and she refused to do that. She thought actually he was coming back to rape her again. And she finally talked him out of that part of it, but agreed to pose in some lingerie.
And if you look at the pictures, and you look at her eyes, and you look at her face, you can see that this is not a woman having fun for the camera, you know, showing off her femininity and her womanliness. This is a captive who is upset, afraid, unhappy. It's very clear, and you can see it, that this is coercive.
COSBY: Yes, she definitely is not smiling. I was looking at the pictures earlier. And you can tell it doesn't look like she's engaged in the pictures.
You know, she came forward then, Eleanor, after these pictures were released. And again, she didn't release these pictures. They came about a friend of the guard released them, apparently, to the “Enquirer”?
PAM: Yes. We found that out privately. The “National Enquirer” got these pictures from the girlfriend of the guard who was the rapist.
COSBY: You know, and now she comes forward and says, “Look, this is what happened to me by a guard.” What did the prison do? Did they investigate the guard? And, by the way, we did call the prison today. They had no comment at all about this case.
PAM: Of course.
COSBY: But what did they do, do you know? Did they investigate this to see if this was true or not?
PAM: What they did was arrest her. They came and they put her in handcuffs and they threw her into solitary. And the basis of the arrest was the “National Enquirer” article, which is amazing.
COSBY: Yes, because, in fact, let me show you a—this is a letter from the “National Enquirer.” They write, “Pamela Smart was not the source of the picture or is not connected in any way to the source of the exclusive photographs obtained by the 'Enquirer' and published in an article about Smart in the June 3, 2003, issue. They say it right there.
But then they went back. Who did they say released it? Who did the prison allege took the pictures and distributed them?
PAM: Well, the prison in the administrative superintendent's hearing suggested very explicitly that Pam herself took pictures of herself, that somehow she smuggled in this camera, put a timer on it, took the pictures, got them developed somehow, and that, you know, God knows what other fantasy.
It's very clear that this is a criminal act by a rapist who not only abused and assaulted her illegally, because even if it were consensual in prison—there is no such thing as consensual sex; it's statutory rape no matter what it is—but in this case, he blackmails her, extorts her, harasses her, threatens her, talks about killing the parents, comes back two days later, takes these pictures illegally, and then has the nerve to have his girlfriend sell them and write a bogus story and profit from that.
And by the way, the girlfriend had tried to sell them a year earlier and couldn't. And then Pam, who is all by herself in this situation, sitting in solitary in the summer, in 100 degrees or more heat. And I remember it very well, because I went up to see her a number of times.
COSBY: Where does the case stand now?
PAM: We're waiting to litigate it. It hasn't started. The trial hasn't started yet.