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Teacher rapist now wants lawyer in suit seeking $10M

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A convict who raped an Arizona prison teacher and faces a potential $10 million judgment for damages is asking a federal judge to appoint a lawyer to defend him against the civil suit filed by the teacher.

Jacob Harvey sent a letter to the U.S. District Court in Phoenix last week telling the federal judge overseeing the case that he wants legal representation against the lawsuit.

“I have never been sued before in my life and have no knowledge in (sic) due process in this field.’ Harvey’s handwritten note says. “Therefore I seek counsel because ever since I have been informed of this case against me I have had no idea how to go about defending myself.”

This Jan. 30, 2014 photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows inmate Jacob Harvey, accused of attacking a state prison teacher in Florence, Ariz. (Arizona Department of Corrections via AP, File)

This Jan. 30, 2014 photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows inmate Jacob Harvey, accused of attacking a state prison teacher in Florence, Ariz. (Arizona Department of Corrections via AP, File)

Harvey’s plea is unlikely to lead to an appointment, said Phoenix attorney Stephen Dichter, who isn’t involved in the case.

“There’s no provision for appointing a lawyer to somebody in a civil case,” he said. “There’s no right of counsel in a civil case like there is in a criminal case.”

A magistrate judge recommended early this month that U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton award a $10 million default judgment against Harvey to the teacher. Judge John Boyle wrote in his report that Harvey refused to participate by telephone during an April 13 hearing.

Harvey said in his letter that he was unaware of the details of the April court proceeding but now wants to fully defend himself against the lawsuit.

The state of Arizona paid the woman a $3 million settlement in December. She was raped inside a prison classroom in January 2014. No guards were nearby and there was no video monitoring of the classroom.

The state has since increased security for teachers and other non-sworn staff members.

Harvey was just 20 and serving a 30-year term for rape when he assaulted the teacher. He was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty.

There’s little chance of collecting from Harvey if Bolton accepts the recommendation from the magistrate because he currently has no money, the teacher’s attorney said earlier this month.

But he could inherit money or receive cash from his Indian tribe, which owns several Arizona casinos, attorney Scott Zwillinger said.

“He’s not likely to get out of prison, but who knows, and he should have to pay for what he did whether that’s now or 25 years from now,” Zwillinger said.

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