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Three female guards at a Michigan state prison filed separate lawsuits accusing male co-workers of sexually harassing and assaulting them. The suits, filed Wednesday in Grand Traverse County Circuit Court, contend the misconduct began as early as 2000 at the Pugsley Correctional Facility in Kingsley, Mich., 25 miles south of Traverse City, Mich. Three current employees, including a supervisor, are named as defendants, as is the Michigan Department of Corrections. The plaintiffs, anonymously listed as Jane D. Poe, Jane J. Doe, and Jane K. Roe, said they were subjected to unwanted sexual advances and “touching” that violated their civil rights and created a hostile work environment. The Corrections Department is liable because the supervisor directly in charge of the three women at various times knew of the situation and participated in the harassment, rather than investigate or stop it. “I am hopeful that the government is willing to come forward at the beginning of this to make this situation right with these women,” Blake Ringsmuth, a Traverse City attorney representing the woman, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle newspaper. Corrections spokesman Leo Lalonde said Wednesday that he wasn’t aware of the suits and could not comment on them. “We have advice from the attorney general’s office not to respond or comment about any ongoing litigation,” he said. Each of the three suits seeks more than $25,000 in damages and asks the court to grant orders allowing the women to remain anonymous so they can avoid “substantial embarrassment, humiliation and social stigma.” Two of the plaintiffs no longer work at the Pugsley facility, a one-time prison camp that was converted in January 2001 to a Secure Level I prison, the lowest level of security among Michigan’s prisons. Both of those women claim the alleged harassment caused them such severe emotional distress that they had to undergo medical treatment, but the Corrections Department denied them lost wages and benefits. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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