OGDEN -- Just days after getting word she had been awarded $1.4 million in her lawsuit against the Utah State Prison guard who raped her, Priscilla Chavez was sentenced to serve time in the same prison.
The federal damages award for the 2001 rape was finalized Feb. 23.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups wrote "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."
Louis Poleate, the prison guard convicted of raping Chavez, was fired and did prison time for the rape.
The state prison settled its part of the lawsuit out of court for an undisclosed amount.
"It was a lot less than $1.4 million," said Randy Phillips, Chavez's lawyer now pursuing Poleate in Wisconsin, his last known address.
Phillips is talking to several law firms to get a collection lawsuit going against Poleate, along with background checks and asset evaluations, with garnishment of wages also possible.
Chavez, waiting in Weber County Jail since her transfer last year from the state mental hospital, where treatment made her competent, was sentenced March 2 to one to 15 years in prison on a charge of attempted assault by a prisoner.
Three other cases involving altercations with police and a mental health counselor dating back to 2007 were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Eight cases of assault of a police officer in 1999 were what first sent the 5-foot-4 Chavez to prison when she was 16.
Chavez, now 26, has been in and out of prison and Utah State Hospital since she was 14.
Her mother, Irene Chavez, of North Ogden, and her lawyers say she has a number of mental problems, some stemming from sexual abuse when she was a child.
"It's biological as well as life circumstances," Phillips said of Chavez's diagnosed behavioral disorders, something for which he said the prison will have to give her extra consideration.
"They better. Just basically treat her humanely, understand her condition," he said. "Not necessarily special treatment. Just reasonable and fair treatment."
Noting there is no written protocol for management of prisoners who have previously sued the prison, prison spokesman Steve Gehrke said, "We will take precautions with her accordingly."
Prison administrators were aware Chavez was on her way back to the prison, he said, remembering her in the recent publicity over the $1.4 million federal damages award.
"Her history as a victim will be taken into account," Gehrke said. "We are aware of her past. She had some notoriety, but she'll be treated like any new commitment.
"We will see how her responses are during her evaluations. We'll respond to her reactions."
All incoming inmates go through a Reception and Orientation process, lasting from a few weeks to two months, Gehrke said.
The process determines where the inmate will be housed, the level of security necessary and other conditions, he said.
"It's too bad she's going back, but I think she's better equipped to handle it now," Phillips said. "All she wants is to be treated fairly, with dignity."
Both he and Don Sharp, the attorney who represented Chavez on the assault charges, said Chavez is fine when she stays on her medications.
"It's when she's off her meds that she loses control," Sharp said. "I was proud of how well-behaved she was at her sentencing."
The lawyers confirmed Chavez was married in mid-February, during a one-day medical furlough from the county jail, to a boyfriend of several years from Ogden. They didn't know him well, just by his first name, Tony.
Phillips said Chavez was quite calm upon hearing the news of the $1.4 million verdict.
"She was expecting it. All the money in the world won't put her back together, but it was what she was hoping for."