In December, federal whistleblower Reality Winner stated that a guard she accused of wrongdoing announced to her Fort Worth, Tx., unit that Winner had filed a report and warned: “If you lie on me, I go for blood,” adding urgency to a claim she had issued nine months earlier, reports The Intercept. The March incident that prompted Winner to file a report under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) occurred around 3 a.m. when, during an overnight cell check that guards perform to make sure incarcerated people are in their beds, Winner told her attorneys that a guard reached into her bed and rubbed her arm. Winner told her mother and attorney Allison Grinter, that nothing happened after she filed her PREA report and that she believes only her public outcry led the prison to send an investigator and doctor to meet her in January.
The Bureau of Prisons, in a statement, told The Intercept it has a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual abuse and that all allegations are “thoroughly investigated.” But experts said the protections laid out under PREA may still come up short for the range of ways that incarcerated people experience sexual threats. It’s unclear what action, if any, prison administrators took after Winner filed her complaint. Winner is currently serving the longest prison sentence of its kind under the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law used in recent years to send journalists’ sources to prison, even as comparable defendants have simply gotten probation for “mishandling classified information.”