SALT LAKE CITY -- A former prison guard must pay more than $1.4 million in damages to the woman he raped in 2001 while she was incarcerated in Utah State Prison.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups handed down the decision Tuesday.
Louis Poleate was ordered to pay Priscilla Chavez $435,332.50 in compensatory damages, $1 million in punitive damages and compensation for attorney fees.
In January, Waddoups ruled in favor of Chavez, but said he needed more time to deliberate how much he would award her.
Waddoups wrote in his nine-page ruling that he hopes a punitive award of this magnitude will cure Poleate of his "disrespect for the law."
He goes on to say that "such a strong award also gives guards in Mr. Poleate's position something to consider before they violate inmates' civil rights by raping them in the future."
Randy Phillips, Chavez's Ogden-based attorney, said they are pleased with the ruling, but he doubts whether they will be able to collect the money Poleate is ordered to pay Chavez.
He said Poleate is reportedly living in Wisconsin now, but shouldn't be hard to track down because he is listed on the national sex offender registry.
Phillips plans an inquiry into what assets Poleate has in hopes of recovering whatever he can for his client.
Poleate had been on the job about two weeks when he raped Chavez. He was fired and served five years in prison for the rape.
During the civil trial, Poleate did not present much of a defense against Chavez's account of the brutal rape. The ruling hints that Poleate's indifference may have irked Waddoups. "Mr. Poleate does not appear to show any remorse for the crime," Waddoups wrote in his decision.
The Utah Department of Corrections was originally named as a defendant in the suit as well, but was later released after the two parties reached a settlement.
Chavez, 26, has been in and out of prison and the Utah State Hospital since she was 14. Her mother, Irene Chavez, of North Ogden, previously said her daughter suffered from a number of mental problems, some stemming from being sexually abused as a child.
Chavez is currently in Weber County Jail awaiting sentencing on a charge of attempted assault by a prisoner. She pleaded guilty to reduce charges in that case in December and is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.
Three other cases involving altercations with police and a mental health counselor dating back to 2007 were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Court records state Chavez recently petitioned the court for permission to get married. The court granted the request as long as Chavez can work it out with the jail.