Man Who Lost Suit Against Prison Officials Sentenced for Robbery

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MARSHALL, Texas — A former inmate who lost his federal civil rights lawsuit against several Texas prison system officials over claims he was raped by fellow prisoners has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for robbery.

Roderick Keith Johnson, 39, was sentenced after pleading guilty Monday to robbing a service station in Marshall in February, said District Attorney Joe Black.

Authorities said he had given the clerk a note that read: "I have 9 mm. Put the money in the bag." Officers arrested him near the station and found a bag of money in his possession, police said.

In his civil suit filed in 2002, Johnson had sought unspecified damages against Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials at the Allred Unit near Wichita Falls, where he said prison gangs raped him almost daily during his 18 months there.

Johnson, who had been in prison for violating his probation terms on a burglary conviction, said he was targeted by inmates because he is gay.

In 2004, a Wichita Falls grand jury declined to indict 49 prisoners Johnson had accused of sexually assaulting him.

Before the suit went to trial, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans dropped eight of the original 15 defendants in the case.

After a monthlong trial in 2005 in Wichita Falls, jurors found that the six prison officials were not liable in violating his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment by ignoring his pleas for protection from inmate rapes. One official had been dropped from the suit during the trial.

Johnson, who returned to his native Harrison County after his release from prison, previously said that he had started a program in Austin for former inmates to re-enter society and wanted to create the same program in East Texas.