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Jailing of Transexual Violated Rights, Woman Inmate Claims

September 12, 1985

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) _ A woman prisoner claims her rights were violated at the Boulder County Jail because a person who had a sex-change operation was housed in the same female section of the jail.

Vicki Griffis, 30, of Lafayette, who was serving part of a sentence for drunk driving, said Wednesday that she was terrified during her two-day stay at the jail this week because of the presence of a person police identified as James John Gonzales.

Gonzalez was locked alone in a special cell in the female section of the jail, but could watch female inmates, Ms. Griffis said. Gonzales’ cell is near the restrooms and the showers, and Ms. Griffis said she was afraid to use them.

Gonzales was arrested Monday by Longmont police on suspicion of defrauding an innkeeper by impersonating a niece of the late Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. Employees of the Littletree Plaza Hotel called authorities after Gonzales’ hotel bill topped $1,500, police said.

Ed Meacham, jail captain, said the jail’s policy is to house people in the male or female side of the jail, according to what sexual organs they have.

His medical staff determined that Gonzales was more female than male, even though Gonzales has beard growth, stands more than 6 feet tall and weighs about 225 pounds.

″My medical staff told me that anatomically this person is a woman. If someone does not care for this person’s looks, I can’t help that,″ he said.

Ms. Griffis said jail personnel told her that because of the sex change, Gonzales could not be housed with the men, for Gonzales’ safety, but she questioned why jail officials were not concerned about the women’s safety.

Gonzales is being held under $2,500 bond, pending a mental evaluation.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Longmont police fielded more than 50 calls from law enforcement agencies in Denver, Englewood, Lakewood and Arapahoe County and from ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, airplane salesmen, car dealers, real estate agents and others who allegedly had dealings with ″Marie Onassis.″

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