Another lawsuit filed against Bethel halfway-house operator

Posted: Sunday, April 30, 2000

BETHEL (AP) -- Just weeks after one lawsuit was settled, another has been filed against Cornell Corrections Inc. for its operation of a Bethel halfway house. This time the state is also a defendant.

The new lawsuit, filed last week in Bethel Superior Court, claims negligence led to the rape of a woman by a former boyfriend who walked away from the Tundra Center.

The state Department of Corrections was named as a defendant because Cornell operates Tundra Center under a state contract, the Tundra Drums newspaper reported Thursday.

Two weeks ago Cornell settled a lawsuit over poor living conditions at the center. Plaintiffs received more than $100,000 in the settlement, whose exact terms were not made public.

Lawyers Jim Valcarce and Chris Cooke claim that Charlene Alice Twitchell was raped as a result of negligence. Leonard Olrun has been charged with first-degree sexual assault.

Twitchell is seeking more than $50,000 in actual damages, as well as punitive damages.

Valcarce would not comment on the case. Neither would Cornell, the Department of Corrections nor the State Attorney General's office.

The lawsuit claims that Corrections and Cornell knew as far back as 1998 that the security and monitoring systems at the Tundra Center were not adequate to handle violent offenders.

Olrun was placed in the minimum-security facility by the state to finish out his jail time for a 1998 domestic violence assault against Twitchell.

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