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A Florida woman who was assaulted by a Wackenhut Corp. security guard in October 1998 is joining the ranks of others elsewhere in the country accusing the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., security giant of faulty hiring, training and supervision of its guards. The newest claim by Eve Uydess comes as Texas authorities have indicted 12 former Wackenhut employees as a result of claims that they raped or had sex with female inmates at a state jail in Austin. In addition, the U.S. Justice Department has sued Wackenhut in Louisiana, claiming its guards beat young boys and threw gas grenades into their barracks. Wackenhut has denied wrongdoing in both states. Uydess’ claim for damages stems from events that occurred one evening in October 1998, when Uydess was leaving Cypress Bend Condominiums in Pompano Beach, Fla. It was dark. Uydess was alone. While backing out of a parking space, Uydess’ car bumped into an adjacent parked car. This triggered the arrival of Wackenhut security guard Robert Spurlock. Cypress Bend had contracted with Wackenhut to protect its residents and visitors, paying nearly $2,000 a week. The security company paid Spurlock $9.50 an hour, according to court documents. Armed with a gun, ammunition belt and radio, Spurlock showed up on his bike decked out in a uniform similar to that of the Florida Highway Patrol, said Uydess’ attorney, Frank Petosa of Seiden Alder Rothman Pets & Matthewman in Boca Raton, Fla. Spurlock forced Uydess, a visitor to the condo, to have oral sex and then raped her in a nearby pool cabana bathroom after threatening to charge her with felony DUI and leaving the scene of an accident, according to the suit. Uydess immediately called police, who investigated. A Broward Circuit Court criminal jury in June 1999 convicted Spurlock of simple battery and making a false report, but acquitted him of the more serious charge of sexual battery. He was sentenced to two years in jail. Spurlock has served six months, and next week will ask the court if he can serve the remaining 18 months in a halfway house, said Petosa. In March, Uydess sued Wackenhut and Spurlock for damages in Broward Circuit Court. Petosa said Uydess suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from the assault. Wackenhut and Spurlock deny liability. In court documents, Wackenhut alleged that Spurlock acted outside the scope of his employment, that Uydess was trespassing when assaulted, and that any sexual acts were consensual. Wackenhut conducted a criminal investigation, credit check, driver’s license check, interview and reference checks along with drug and psychological screening before hiring Spurlock, according to Wackenhut lawyer Thomas McCausland of the Bohdan Neswiacheny Law Firm of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in court documents. McCausland did not return phone calls. But Wackenhut did not check Spurlock’s military records, even though the company began in 1997 to start recruiting from the ranks of the military, according to court records. Petosa wants the military records made public. Petosa said he learned from the state’s attorney that the records would show that Spurlock had a history of prior misconduct, which would have disqualified him from being licensed as a security guard. Broward Circuit Judge Robert L. Andrews on May 24 ordered Spurlock to sign a release for his military records. But Spurlock then persuaded the judge on Aug. 14 to order the records to remain confidential — available only to court and litigants. Uydess’ attorney has appealed this ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeal. Petosa argued that Florida public policy is that all civil proceedings are open to the public. Spurlock’s attorneys, Michele Nelson and Clark Smith of Paxton Crow Bragg Smith & Paxton in West Palm Beach, Fla., have countered in filings that the release of the records would seriously invade Spurlock’s privacy. U.S. Army records are not relevant and “create irreparable harm to his privacy interest” under the federal Privacy Act of 1974, they wrote in court documents. Wackenhut has admitted, however, that two of its clients had complained about Spurlock before he was assigned to Cypress Bend, according to court records. The company did not describe those in detail. Wackenhut corporate communications director Patrick Cannan was unavailable for comment.

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