The Coyte Law Firm of Albuquerque filed two lawsuits – one federal, one in state district court – in the last two weeks not only alleging that Mark Walden sexually abused 11 men, but that the company managing the private prisons where the abuse allegedly occurred negligently allowed Walden to continue work, even though abuse had been reported.
The first allegations of abuse surfaced in September 2011 when an inmate at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility – operated by the private, Florida-based GEO Group Inc. – wrote a report on Walden’s alleged misconduct, according to Coyte’s lawsuit filed in District Court in Santa Fe.
That’s when Walden was transferred to the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility in Clayton, operated by the same company, and allegedly continued to abuse at least 18 inmates, who filed the first two lawsuits in March 2013. Those suits are ongoing.
“The private corporations make millions doing this work, but deliberately moved the doctor after allegations of abuse surfaced,” said Matthew Coyte of the Coyte Law Firm on Sunday. “In this instance, the claims illustrate that private corporations didn’t do enough to stop it from happening again.”
Walden was employed by Corizon, a private company that provides medical services for jails across the nation and has a $177.6 million contract with New Mexico for those services.
Both companies, along with jail officials, are named in the suits.
“By failing to discipline Dr. Walden, and allowing him to be transferred to a new population of inmates who were unaware of his reputation for sexual abuse, defendants Corizon and GEO … ultimately encouraged his misconduct,” reads one of the lawsuits.
The Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation into Walden and he was suspended from practice by the New Mexico Medical Board in July. He has since filed for bankruptcy.
Walden has denied the allegations in court records, although his lawyer hadn’t commented on the litigation, according to Journal archives. She did not immediately return calls late Sunday.
Coyte’s district court lawsuit, filed on behalf of five inmates, does not name Walden as a defendant, although it alleges that he performed unnecessary anal exams – sometimes without gloves – and fondled their genitals. The inmates had sought medical treatment for everything from a routine physical to foot pain to diabetes.
The federal lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of five former inmates, has similar allegations.
Both lawsuits allege that Walden posted photos of semi-naked men wearing plastic penises on Facebook while he was working at Corizon.
“The victimization of people in prisons is all to common and it is always serious,” Coyte said. “I was shocked to the number of people it happened to.”