Class action launched by former N.S. inmate alleges sexual misconduct in prisons

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HALIFAX — A former prison inmate in Nova Scotia has filed a class-action lawsuit against the attorney general of Canada for allegedly failing to prevent sexual assault in women's prisons across the country.

The statement of claim filed Wednesday by lead plaintiff Sara Tessier says the country’s six women’s prisons have allegedly perpetuated sexual violence against vulnerable women.

Tessier, a former inmate of the Nova Institution for Women, filed the lawsuit on behalf of herself and other current and former inmates in women’s prisons who may have been subjected to sex-based discrimination by prison staff.

Tessier's lawyer, Mike Dull, says current and former inmates have described a “culture of fear and silence” regarding their attempts to report sexual assaults within the prison system.

The lawsuit is seeking several remedies, including general and special damages for pain and suffering and a declaration that the attorney general has been in breach of several charter rights.

Representatives from Attorney General David Lametti's office were not immediately available for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press