Public Safety

State to pay $1.65 million to former Iowa correctional officer

Kristine Sink alleges Iowa State Penitentiary officials retaliated against her after she complained about inmates watching sexually-explicit and violent movies

Kristine Sink, shown in her Iowa State Penitentiary uniform in this undated photo, won a $2 million jury award March 7, 2018, in a lawsuit alleging retaliation by the prison administration. This week, the State Appeal Board approved a $1.65 millions settlement with her for a related issue. (Submitted photo)
Kristine Sink, shown in her Iowa State Penitentiary uniform in this undated photo, won a $2 million jury award March 7, 2018, in a lawsuit alleging retaliation by the prison administration. This week, the State Appeal Board approved a $1.65 millions settlement with her for a related issue. (Submitted photo)

The State Appeal Board has approved a $1.65 million settlement with a former Iowa State Penitentiary correctional officer who says officials discriminated against her after she complained about inmates watching graphic movies.

Kristine Sink, who worked at the state penitentiary in Fort Madison from 2002 through 2016, also received a $2 million jury award last year for a related lawsuit. The state is appealing that verdict.

Sink says corrections officials sexually harassed her, discriminated against her and did not make accommodations for her to avoid direct contact with inmates. She sought these accommodations after inmates threatened her and made sexual comments to her because they knew she opposed many of the R-rated movies they were allowed to watch, the suit states.

From 2004 through 2011, inmates were allowed to watch movies that depicted “violent rape, gang rape, dehumanization of women, sexual acts between human beings and animals” and other violence toward women, the suit states. Sink complained and occasionally turned off the movies, but her supervisors told her to let them continue, the suit states.

Sink tried to get prison officials to change her work environment because of her stress and anxiety around inmates, she said.

“Other employees with restrictions, but who have not filed complaints of harassment and discrimination, are allowed to work in other positions, such as master control, mailroom or turnkey to process visitors,” the suit states. “None of these positions has ever been offered to Kristine, although she has asked about them.”

In the $1.65 million settlement approved Monday, Sink agreed to dismiss her lawsuit and the state denied all claims. Sink will get $650,000 and her attorneys will get $1 million.

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Sink’s settlement was approved the same day as the state agreed to pay $4.15 million to two women who alleged they were sexually harassed by David Jamison, former director of the Iowa Finance Authority.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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