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Trans inmate who killed baby and identifies as Muslim woman sues chaplain for allegedly not allowing hijab

A transgender inmate convicted of reckless homicide of 11-month old baby is suing an Indiana prison chaplain for barring hijab wearing outside of bed quarters and is seeking $150,000 in damages.

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

Autumn Cordellionè, also known as Jonathan C. Richardson, is currently serving out his 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 Richardson the hijab was not allowed to be worn outside his immediate bed area. Richardson 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,” Richardson said in the lawsuit. 

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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,” Richardson alleged in the complaint. 

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

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Richardson 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. 

He further alleged the chaplain violated his 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],” Richardson 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.”

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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 Richardson, who was convicted of reckless homicide after strangling his 11-month-old stepdaughter to death in 2001, was suing the Indiana Department of Corrections for not granting his wish to get sex reassignment surgery. 

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

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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 Richardson “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.”

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

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

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

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