South Carolina

Female prisoners subjected to unnecessary exams in South Carolina jail, lawsuits say

A man working as a nurse at a South Carolina jail subjected female inmates to unnecessary pelvic exams and other obtrusive exams that were not needed, according to lawsuits filed recently in Berkeley County.

Five women filed separate lawsuits accusing the nurse, Alexander Lluvera, of doing medically unnecessary vaginal exams and then never sending pap smear tests away for results. Lluvera worked for Correctional Healthcare Companies, which provided healthcare services in the Berkeley County Detention Center, according to the lawsuits.

In one suit, a woman says she asked for treatment of a minor skin infection at a medical kiosk in the jail. As he was examining her, Lluvera said he was going to perform a pap smear, even though it was unnecessary or wasn’t called for as part of the exam, according to the lawsuit.

“Lluvera did not wear gloves during the vaginal exam,” she said in the court filing. He never sent the June 2017 test away or gave the woman the results, the lawsuit says.

Four of the lawsuits detail similar incidents involving pelvic exams in 2016 and 2017. Lluvera performed another unnecessary vaginal exam on a woman after she was in a car crash.

A fifth lawsuit says Lluvera asked a female prisoner to take off her clothes without a chaperone present so he could inspect drug injection sites on her inner thighs as she was going through drug withdrawal, according to WCSC. The text of that lawsuit was not available in the county’s online court records Thursday afternoon.

Lluvera’s employer and the jail staff from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office know about the “allegations of inappropriate and unnecessary medical exams” but continue to let the nurse see patients at the jail, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuits were all filed June 3 and 6 in Berkeley County court.

A spokeswoman for Berkeley County told McClatchy the county does not comment on pending lawsuits and has not been served with the legal papers. She has not responded to questions about if Lluvera still works at the jail or in another capacity in the county.

Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.