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Transgender prisoner who sued dies days before release

Updated: September 19, 2019 03:41 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A transgender prison inmate who sued the state of New York, saying she was raped in a men's prison, has died of cancer days before she was to be freed on parole.

LeslieAnn Manning, who had been serving a 30-year sentence for shooting at a police car, died Saturday at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, near Buffalo, according to the state corrections department.

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Manning, 53, had lung cancer, said her attorney, Susan Hazeldean.

The corrections department said she was scheduled to be released Sept. 23 after receiving parole board approval in May.

Manning accepted $100,000 from the state last year to settle a federal lawsuit in which she had argued prison officials were "deliberately indifferent" to her safety as a transgender woman housed in a men's prison.

In the suit, filed in 2015, Manning said she was raped by a male prisoner in an unmonitored classroom.

Manning was still going by her birth name, Ronald, when she began serving a sentence of 30 years to life in 1991 for attempted murder, attempted assault and weapons charges.

Manning escaped from state custody in 1998 while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Warsaw, New York, but was recaptured.

According to a 2012 profile in The Citizen , of Auburn, New York, Manning successfully sued the state for the right to undergo hormone therapy, beginning treatment in 2009.

"They try to do everything they can to deny that you're trying to be female," Manning told the newspaper about trying to live as a woman in prison. "It's just continual harassment."

Hazeldean said the prison should have expedited Manning's release because of the gravity of her illness.

The corrections department issued a statement Thursday saying it did not have the legal authority to release Manning earlier. Parole eligibility dates are based on a prisoner's sentence, the agency said.

A longtime friend, Jamie Moorby, said that during a recent visit, Manning was in a wheelchair, on oxygen and could barely be upright for an hour before having to go lie down.

"All she cared about at that stage was getting her freedom before she died," she said.

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Ryan Tarinelli is a corps member for Report for America, a nonprofit organization that supports local news coverage in a partnership with The Associated Press for New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Credits

By RYAN TARINELLI

(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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