‘Violated and humiliated’: inmate claims privacy breach at OCC

Latest lawsuit makes at least four against the Okanagan jail, just over a year after its opening

The Okanagan Correctional Centre is facing yet another lawsuit, this time with an inmate claiming feeling “abused and disrespected, violated and humiliated” after allegedly being told to strip in front of a camera.

Mathew Van Exan wrote in a lawsuit he was placed in OCC on remand after staying in a variety of facilities, finishing a two-year sentence.

Due to a unit search, Van Exan said he was waiting to be placed in a segregation holding cell with another inmate between about 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and at some point he asked to use the washroom.

Related: Second lawsuit in a week filed against jail

“So I was placed in another holding cell with a camera. I was to be placed in a segregation cell and changed from my reds (clothing) to seg. orange,” he said.

“I then told the CO (corrections officer) that there was a camera and did not feel comfortable changing naked in front of it, due to some past history of sexual abuse from when I was young.”

Van Exan claims he was told by staff it was an order to change, and “not wanting to get charged for disobeying staff order, I was uncomfortably stripped down nude.”

Related: Inmate suing Okanagan Correctional over alleged assault by officer

“Even though I was very argumentative about the situation, and even specified that it was my right to not unclothe on camera, I was then forced to touch my privates, lift them, even bend over,” Van Exan wrote.

“By this time, I felt completely abused and disrespected, violated and humiliated. The CO clearly knew he had breached my rights, as we kept arguing about the situation.”

Van Exan said the other inmate he had been waiting to transfer into segregation with was later taken to the proper room to change clothing.

Related: Inmate suing Okanagan Correctional over cart crash

None of the allegations have been proven in court, and no response has been filed by the B.C. government, the plaintiff in the civil claim.

Van Exan is calling for $35,000 as an award “for charter damages or breach of privacy,” the maximum claim in a small claims court.

This is at least four lawsuits filed regarding the jail at this point. David McHale is suing the jail after he and Peter Beckett were allegedly stabbed while in protective custody by Afshin Ighani, who is also facing criminal charges in the matter while he awaits trial on another matter.

Another lawsuit claims an overt use of force by a correctional officer. Tayler Veraegen claims a CO chokeslammed him, allegedly after he questioned an order to step out of his cell.

And another lawsuit claims inadequate health care after an accident with a cart, leading to improper healing.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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