State will pay guards’ legal expenses in prison rape lawsuit

By Don Thompson The Associated Press
Friday December 14, 2001

SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Corrections said Thursday it will pay for the legal defense of three current correctional officers and one former employee accused in a pending federal civil rights lawsuit. 

The guards are accused of setting up the rape of inmate Eddie Dillard by leaving him in the cell of a known sexual predator, Wayne Robertson. 

The decision means the state would pay any compensatory damages from the federal suit, said Dillard’s attorney, Robert L. Bastian Jr., though the four may be personally liable for any punitive damages. 

The agreement comes after a state court in Hanford ruled the department is legally required to defend the Corcoran State Prison guards. The state is dropping its appeal, which had been set for a hearing later this month. 

The 118-pound Dillard alleges he was repeatedly raped over two days in March 1993 by Robertson, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound convicted murderer known as the “Booty Bandit.” 

However, a Kings County Superior Court jury acquitted four guards in 1999 of aiding and abetting sodomy in concert. 

Three of the four guards – Robert Allan Decker, Joe Sanchez and Anthony J. Sylva – and a fourth former employee, Kathy Horton-Plant, are named in the federal civil rights lawsuit awaiting a January 8 hearing in U.S. District Court in Fresno. 

The suit is expected to go to trial next spring.