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Transgender Muslim inmate serving 55 years for killing baby files $150K lawsuit for not being allowed to wear hijab

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Leroy N. Soetoro

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Feb 20, 2024, 8:00:53 PMFeb 20
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https://nypost.com/2024/02/20/us-news/transgender-muslim-inmate-serving-
55-years-for-killing-baby-files-150k-lawsuit-for-not-being-allowed-to-
wear-hijab/

A transgender inmate serving a 55-year sentence for strangling her 11-
month-old stepdaughter to death filed a civil lawsuit against the prison
chaplain for allegedly prohibiting her from wearing a hijab outside her
immediate bed quarters, despite identifying as Muslim.

Autumn Cordellionè, also known as Jonathan C. Richardson, is currently
serving out her sentence at the Branchville Correctional Facility, an
Indiana Department of Correction state prison for men.

According to the lawsuit filed Nov. 30 and obtained by Fox News Digital, a
prison chaplain told Cordellionè the hijab was not allowed to be worn
outside her immediate bed area.

Cordellionè is seeking $150,000 in damages and the ability to wear the
hijab “anywhere I go within the facility.”

“I informed him that I wear the hajib [sic] in order to cover my head and
ears for modesty purposes, as I am an Islamic practicing transwoman,”
Cordellionè said in the lawsuit.

The chaplain then proceeded to inform Richardson that his listed religious
preference is “Wiccan,” a pagan Earth-centered religion with a male god
and moon goddess, “and I responded that I am an eclectic practitioner who
is a member of the Theosophical Society in America,” Cordellionè alleged
in the complaint.

“I practice a diversity of faiths in order to custom tailor my spiritual
beliefs to my spiritual needs,” Cordellionè said in the lawsuit.

Cordellionè claimed his 14th amendment, or equal protection clause, was
violated by the chaplain’s alleged refusal to let him wear the hijab.

“Male Islamic practitioners are allowed to wear their kufis across the
facility, and are not restricted to their bed areas only,” the complaint
stated.

She further alleged the chaplain violated her Eighth Amendment rights
against cruel and unusual punishment and claimed he was subject to
“harassment and ridicule” by other Muslim prisoners.

“He should be aware, as Chaplain, the stigma and shame that is attributed
to Islamic women when they go uncovered and without a hijab [sic],”
Cordellionè wrote in the complaint. “Women are viewed as whores, tempters
of men, and adulterators; by Islamic society both in and out of prison. I
have been shunned, made a social pariah, and amongst my own religious
community.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the Indiana Department of Corrections for
comment from the chaplain, but the facility said they do not comment on
pending litigation. The chaplain also could not be reached.

Fox News Digital previously reported, Cordellionè, who was convicted of
reckless homicide after strangling her 11-month-old stepdaughter to death
in 2001, was suing the Indiana Department of Corrections for not granting
her wish to get sex reassignment surgery.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing Cordellionè in
that lawsuit.

An Indiana law, adopted last summer, prohibits the Department of
Corrections from using taxpayer dollars to fund sex reassignment surgeries
for inmates.

However, the ACLU argues in the lawsuit, filed on Aug. 28, 2023, that the
law is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and
unusual punishment.”

The surgery for Cordellionè “is a medical necessity,” according to the
ACLU lawsuit.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office told Fox News Digital in a
statement on Monday: “The ACLU already gave this convicted murderer of an
11-month-old baby a voice when they tried to make taxpayers foot the bill
for his ridiculous gender transition surgery request.”

“Our office didn’t let that happen because regular, law-abiding Hoosiers
want to see justice served — not a killer being catered to while serving
time behind bars.”

While incarcerated and awaiting trial, correctional officer Lt. James
Spence reportedly asked Cordellionè what she was being charged with, to
which Cordellionè responded, “murder.”

“At that point, another officer checked Richardson’s [Cordellionè] booking
sheet and advised Lieutenant Spence that Richardson was incarcerated for
reckless homicide,” court records state. “When Lieutenant Spence relayed
that information to Richardson, she stated ‘well all I know is I killed
the little f—king bitch.’”

Richardson’s wife subsequently filed for divorce and a restraining order
in October 2001, public records indicate.

--
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