Inmates and guards at the Prince George's County Detention Center say that there are about a dozen male rapes or sexual assaults there every week. But jail director Arnett Gaston doesn't believe them.
In response to specific rape and sexual assault cases in which jail rapists corroborated the accounts of their victims, Gaston said that he did not believe they happened.
"You have a statement by one person with a history of bizarre behavior corroborated by another person with a history of bizarre behavior," he said, referring to a man who was sexually assaulted and the man who sexually assaulted him. "What does that prove?"
Gaston made similar remarks about seven other sexual assault and rape cases among 10 that a reporter described to him. In all but one of the 10 cases, the victims' description of the crime was corroborated by the rapists. In all but two cases, the victims reported their rapes or sexual assaults to a guard or a jail medical technician.
Gaston said he believed only two of the cases might have occurred: the rapes of Lance Purdy, a New Carrollton man, and the rape of a mechanic from Queens, N.Y.
"There were formal statements to police by the inmates," said Gaston of those cases. "They were sent to the rape crisis center, and the cases were presented to the grand jury."
Gaston said those two cases occurred because of the jail's "monosexual atmosphere," adding, "the same thing happens in schools."
Earlier, Gaston said the guards try to minimize sexual assaults and rapes by unscheduled patrolling of cells, scrutinizing gatherings of inmates and moving alleged victims and potential victims to safer sections of the jail.
Gaston's view of the number of rapes is reflected in jail definitions. Jail officials don't put accounts of rapes and sexual assaults told to guards or medical technicians on a list of "reported rapes" unless the victim brings criminal charges -- or unless there is clear medical evidence, according to jail spokesman Jim O'Neill.
In addition, there are no sexual assaults on the jail's list of reported rapes. Gaston calls sexual assaults, simply, assaults.
"That's just an assault," said Gaston, referring to an incident in which Kevin Parrish, a student from Upper Marlboro, was brutally beaten because he refused to perform oral sex on several men, one of whom had exposed himself and torn Parrish's pants. "He was not sodomized nor did he perform sodomy on anybody."
The vast majority of rapes and sexual assaults are not reported, according to guards and inmates -- and Gaston does not believe that they occur. "I have no evidence that there are unreported rapes in this jail," Gaston said.