Nearly 200 current and former California correctional officers have filed a lawsuit alleging that they were forced to take unnecessary rectal exams that amounted to sexual assault.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Sacramento County Superior Court against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Sacramento Bee reported Thursday.
Several men and women told the Bee that they had been selected to become prison officers, but medical workers at a group of Sacramento clinics told them that they needed to have rectal examinations before they could start training.
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The exam involved the insertion of fingers into their rectums, three plaintiffs to the Bee on condition of anonymity.
One woman told the paper that she was 22 when she had an invasive exam in 2014. A physician's assistant told her it was a prostate exam, she said.
Women don't have prostates.
"It was very uncomfortable, and I was really confused," said the woman. "I just wanted to get out of there."
Some women also were given exams involving vaginal penetration, said Jamie Wright, one of the attorneys representing the officers.
The examinations occurred from 2006 to 2016, Wright estimated.
Only officers from Northern California had to undergo the exams, according to the lawsuit.
A corrections department hiring bulletin said the agency only requires rectal examinations for recruits who are 50 or older, the paper said.
However, even for people over 50, rectal exams aren't routine anymore, Dr. Michael Wilkes, a professor of medicine at the University of California, Davis, told the Bee.
A message to a departmental spokesperson seeking comment wasn't immediately returned.
The lawsuit also names Dr. Gilbert Simon, who until 2016 owned Sacramento Family Medical Clinics.
Simon told the paper by telephone that the physician's assistants he employed in the clinics followed the corrections department's orders.
"If it were done, the reason was it was required," he said of the rectal exams. "Or at least perceived to be required. Nobody does it happily."