Three women who allegedly beat and sexually assaulted another woman in the Indio jail because she did follow through on smuggling drugs into the facility pleaded not guilty Thursday.
Cassandra Othelia Hoskins, 30, Tamra Elayne Chavez, 56, and June Alejo, 35, are charged with one count each of assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful sexual penetration by means of force, sexual penetration of a victim while unconscious and assault causing great bodily injury.
Prosecutors said Hoskins planned the attack, and they charged her with an additional assault with a deadly weapon count, as well as a count of criminal threats.
The investigation into the trio of convicted felons began Oct. 13, 2017, when the assault was reported at the Indio jail, according to a declaration in support of arrest warrant submitted by sheriff's Investigator Julio Oseguera.
Charges were later filed Dec. 5, 2018, when at least two of the defendants, Hoskins and Alejo, were out of county jail. At a preliminary hearing last month, a judge ruled prosecutors had sufficient evidence to warrant a trial, leading to Friday's re-arraignment.
According to Oseguera, the victim told investigators that Hoskins — nicknamed "Tank Boss" and the leader of her housing unit — sought to persuade the victim to smuggle drugs into the jail.
The plan involved the victim faking a medical emergency in order to be transported to a local hospital for treatment, where she would swipe the drugs and smuggle them back into the jail, the document states.
Local news from across Southern California
Once at the hospital, however, the victim apparently got cold feet and failed to bring the drugs back. Hoskins and the other defendants may have become suspicious that the victim took the drugs for herself and they allegedly attacked her in response.
According to the declaration, Hoskins allegedly bashed the victim's head into the concrete wall in the shower area, knocking her unconsciousness. The victim awoke to Hoskins searching her vaginal area in vain for the drugs.
Chavez allegedly helped lead the victim into the shower area, where the assault as staged, and Alejo allegedly participated in the beating, the document says.
A razor blade was also used in the attack but it was unclear what role it played, according to court documents.
All three defendants remain behind bars: Hoskins on $500,000 bail, Alejo on $400,000 and Chavez on $145,000. The trio is scheduled to return to the Larson Justice Center in Indio April 6 for a trial-readiness conference.