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Heitkamp, Cramer spar on issues in first debate after Democratic incumbent apologizes for newspaper ad

Transgender inmate's complaints are fabricated, Cass County official says

William Anthony Fly

FARGO — Cass County officials have concluded that a jail inmate's claim her rights as a transgender person and other rights were ignored is simply not justified.

"You're making stuff up," County Commissioner Chad Peterson said of many of the complaints filed by William Anthony Fly, who now goes by "Toni."

Fly told commissioners in a Dec. 29 letter that, because she identifies as a woman, she wishes to be housed with female inmates and the Cass County Jail's refusal to do so violates her rights. She also complained about a lack of appropriate medical treatment and inappropriate food.

Peterson said the crimes Fly is accused of involve sex acts that only a man can commit, which makes her a potential threat to female inmates. He said Fly's assertion that she didn't get medical attention and that her dietary needs weren't met are simply wrong.

Fly, 49, has pleaded guilty in federal court to transporting a female victim across state lines for criminal sexual acts and awaits sentencing on April 20. Prosecutors have said Fly fathered a child with the victim, whom Fly has abused since the victim was a child.

Capt. Andrew Frobig, the jail administrator, said the U.S. Marshals Service moved Fly Wednesday, Jan. 31, to a jail closer to her attorneys in Bismarck but that she'd return to Cass County for sentencing. The McLean County Jail confirms she's there now.

Peterson, who led the Cass County Commission's response to Fly's complaint along with Frobig, State's Attorney Birch Burdick and County Administrator Robert Wilson, is scheduled to brief commissioners at their meeting at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5.

Serious allegations

When Peterson saw all the complaints Fly laid out in her letter, he said he thought to himself, "Oh my God, what are we doing in our jail?" None of the other commissioners, some having served a dozen years, had seen serious allegations such as denial of medical treatment, he said.

But, he said, he later found out from looking at Fly's record that she has a credibility problem. "People like this, like Mr. Fly, have a reputation for — when they get into a jail what they do is they start creating paperwork for the bureaucracy to have to deal with," he said. "And it's their right, so we still have to take every one of them seriously."

The end result of the county's investigation was summarized in a Jan. 26 letter Frobig wrote to Peterson that suggested Fly's demands are personal preferences that the jail isn't required by law to grant.

Refuting complaints

Frobig grouped Fly's complaints into three groups in his letter: medical, dietary and transgender status.

Federal standards say jails must take certain factors into consideration when transgender inmates have housing requests, but jailers don't have to automatically grant such requests, Frobig wrote. "Fly's position all along, contrary to what the standards actually say, is essentially that simply claiming to be Transgender means he gets to choose where and how he is housed."

Frobig earlier told The Forum he was concerned that Fly's criminal record shows she's willing to have sex with females as a male.

Fly complained she wasn't getting appropriate treatment for a variety of ailments, including hypoglycemia and anatomy requiring female hygiene products.

Frobig wrote that doctors and nurses working for the jail have determined that specific medication and treatments Fly demanded weren't needed and his assertion that previous medical professionals had ordered them weren't true.

The North Dakota Board of Nursing told Fly in a Jan. 26 letter that its investigators have looked at his complaints and "dismissed the potential violation reports due to insufficient evidence to support a violation of the law or of the rules of the Board."

Fly also complained she was fed foods that she is allergic to and that aren't kosher, which her religion requires.

Frobig wrote that Fly's records from other jails show she was inconsistent about her requirements, sometimes not asserting allergies or the need for a kosher diet. Several weeks after coming to the jail, Fly asked for an ingredient list and declared an allergy she didn't previously declare, he wrote.

"I will conclude this letter by reasserting that his complaints have been reviewed at all levels of the supervisory chain of command, including by appeal to the Sheriff in dozens of cases," Frobig said. "I have no concerns that any of our staff or contracted service providers have acted in a manner that is in any way deficient, improper, or otherwise contrary to law."

Tu-Uyen Tran
Tran is an enterprise reporter with the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began his newspaper career in 1999 as a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, now owned by Forum Communications. He began working for the Forum in September 2014. Tran grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington.
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