A federal judge has awarded $1.1 million to a woman who says she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a former Maine State Prison guard.

The woman alleged in a lawsuit that the guard, Joshua Dall-Leighton, assaulted her several times in a prison van while taking her from the Southern Maine Re-entry Center in Alfred to her job. She said Dall-Leighton pursued her while she tried to avoid contact with him, and she was afraid to report him because he had significant control over her life at the re-entry center.

Dall-Leighton, 33, was indicted in November 2016 on four counts of gross sexual assault and one count of unlawful sexual touching. He pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges, all felonies. The indictment said he had “supervisory or disciplinary authority” over the inmate. A clerk at the York County Superior Court said the criminal case is pending, and a status conference is scheduled for November.

The woman filed her civil complaint in U.S. District Court in Portland last year. Dall-Leighton did not respond, meaning he is in default. Hearings about damages took place this month, and on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge George Singal issued the judgment in the woman’s favor.

A phone number listed on federal court records for Dall-Leighton was out of service. He did not appear at the hearings related to damages, and it is unclear whether he can or will pay the large award to the woman. When he was indicted, his court-appointed attorney told the Portland Press Herald that he was no longer working at the prison because he is facing criminal charges. That attorney, Neal Weinstein, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Dall-Leighton had received widespread attention in June 2015 for donating a kidney to a woman who advertised her need for a new organ in the back window of her car.

In his order, Singal wrote that the 33-year-old former inmate still struggles with the physical and emotional consequences of the repeated sexual assaults. Dall-Leighton gave her genital herpes, a painful and incurable sexually transmitted disease. She suffers from depression and panic attacks, which have also affected her sobriety and her focus in school. The Press Herald does not name victims of sexual assault without their consent.

“She now fears all men who wear uniforms similar to those worn by corrections officers, and dislikes being touched to the point that she has had difficulty hugging her children,” the judge wrote. “Counseling has helped (her) make progress on some of these issues, but her suffering is such that she considers it necessary to continue treatment into the foreseeable future. Even though she has been released from prison, (she) feels that the psychological repercussions of Dall-Leighton’s behavior have stopped her from being able to move forward with her life.”

The lawsuit also named as defendants state and prison officials who the woman alleged failed to protect her from the assaults. A judge dismissed the case against most of those other parties, including Joseph Fitzpatrick, the commissioner of the Department of Corrections, but the woman has signaled in court documents that she wants to appeal that decision. Neither Fitzpatrick nor the woman’s attorney responded to a request for comment.

The woman was convicted in January 2012 in Rockland of elevated aggravated assault, robbery and burglary. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all but six years suspended.

The lawsuit details alleged sexual interactions between the former inmate and Dall-Leighton over the course of four or five months beginning in late 2015. The woman was at the re-entry center, a state facility in Alfred for women nearing the end of their sentences. She said the guard made suggestive comments toward her and then arranged to be the person driving her to and from her work assignments outside the re-entry center. On several occasions, she said he drove her to secluded spots where the alleged sexual assaults took place.

“(She) did not consent to this touching, and felt compelled to comply with Dall-Leighton because of his position of power and control over her,” the judge wrote in his order.

At one point, the woman got drunk so she would be sent back to prison from the re-entry center. She confessed what had happened to another inmate, who reported the incidents to authorities.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

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