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Child molester awarded $2.5 million in attorney's fees after Idaho DOC delayed transgender surgery
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Child molester awarded $2.5 million in attorney's fees after Idaho DOC delayed transgender surgery

A former inmate in the Idaho Department of Corrections has been awarded millions in attorney's fees after the state did not immediately agree to pay for transgender surgery.

Back in 2011, Adree Edmo, formerly known as Mason Dean Edmo, molested a 15-year-old boy while the boy was asleep. Edmo pled guilty to sexually abusing a minor under the age of 16 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Within the next few years, Edmo began to struggle with gender identity. By 2017, Edmo had sued the state for violating Edmo's Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment because the state had not paid for transgender surgery. In 2018, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled in favor of Edmo and ruled that the state DOC must provide Edmo with the "gender confirmation" surgery, which she deemed "medically necessary."

However, the surgery was delayed yet another two years because the state opted to appeal the ruling rather than provide the surgery. Eventually, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld nearly the entire ruling, and Edmo received the surgery in 2020, making Edmo just the second U.S. inmate in history to receive the surgery while still incarcerated. Following the procedure, Edmo was transferred to a woman's prison and released in 2021.

Since Edmo's release, the attorneys who formerly represented Edmo sued for $2.8 million in compensation, arguing that they had taken the case on "a contingency basis." Judge Winmill agreed, though she reduced the figure to $2.5 million.

"Federal law requires defendants to pay the reasonable attorney fees and costs of a civil rights plaintiff that proves that her civil rights complaint has been violated," Winmall said, "so this order reflects that law."

It is unclear when Winmall's ruling was made.

Though the state did not prevail in its defense, it has emphasized to the public that taxpayers will not be paying for Edmo's attorney fees. The insurance provider Corizon Correctional Healthcare struck a deal with Idaho DOC back in December, promising to pay for any legal fees awarded to Edmo, and in exchange, the state DOC agreed not to compel Corizon to cover its legal fees.

Edmo was represented by several different attorneys, including Deborah Ferguson and Craig Durham of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Another lawyer for the defense, Howard Belodoff, questioned the state's decision to appeal the initial District Court ruling.

"They choose to do that," Belodoff said, "and if they choose to do that, the consequence is: When you lose, you pay. It’s as simple as that."

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