Family of jailed nuclear physicist sues US government

Falls Church, Virginia –

The family of a nuclear physicist who committed suicide in a Virginia prison is suing the U.S. government after his psychotropic drugs were stopped and he was denied admission to a federal medical prison.

A lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday on behalf of Christopher Rapp’s 16-year-old daughter alleges that a series of mistakes by prison officials, federal marshals, prosecutors and doctors contributed to Rapp’s 2021 death. There is

Despite being sent to the Federal Medical Prison Center in Buttner, North Carolina, and ordered to continue receiving treatment after he recovered, Rupp was sent to Alexandria Prison to await sentencing on federal bank robbery charges when he died. was detained. his mental health.

Rupp, who died at the age of 62, had multiple degrees, including a Ph.D. He is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His father, Ralph Rapp, was a scientist involved in the Manhattan Project.

He lived in the affluent Great Falls neighborhood and owned a $1.3 million home at the time of his arrest. Prosecutors said in court documents that Rapp had multiple romantic interests, including a Playboy model, and that “he worked to satisfy his romantic love interests with additional money.”

Rupp was charged with breaking into Wells Fargo Bank in Great Falls in November 2018 and taking money from tellers at gunpoint. He then reportedly hijacked his car and fled. When a K-9 officer tracked Rupp to his home, he was arrested.

The robbery occurred during what the judge called a manic episode and what the Rapp family attorney described as a psychotic break. He was initially found to be incapable of standing trial, but restored his ability after being sent to Buttner.

After his abilities are restored, Rupp decides to plead guilty to the bank robbery charges. Judge TS Ellis III accepted the guilty plea but ordered at the hearing Rupp to return to his Butner so he could continue the treatment that restored his ability while he awaits sentencing. .

It never happened. Butner refused to accept him, saying their policy prohibited them from accepting unsentenced inmates “for the purpose of continuing care.”

As such, Rapp remained in prison in Alexandria, where the doctor who evaluated him ended his medication after Rapp claimed he did not need it. It said it could not be sent.

Rupp hanged himself in his cell in May 2021, about a month after pleading guilty. He left a note for his daughter saying, “For a while some bad guys have been following me. I’ve been trying to figure out who they are, but things aren’t going well. They can’t hurt others because it’s better for everyone without me.”

A month after the suicide, Ellis called a hearing in which he accused Buttner officials of ignoring his orders. Rapp’s attorneys notified the court in late April that Buttner had refused to admit Rapp, but Ellis was unaware that Rapp had not been transferred.

Victor Glasberg, a lawyer for the Rupp family, said he was disappointed that a lawsuit was necessary. “Many civil servants apparently misbehaved and a man died. Now his 16-year-old daughter has to take them to court,” he said.

A spokesman for the Prison Service declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes a month after the neighboring Arlington County Sheriff’s Office reached a settlement with the family of an inmate who died in the county in 2020.

The family alleged that prison officials failed to treat his withdrawal symptoms and displayed willful disinterest in his medical needs. The resulting settlement ran aground.

If you or someone you know is in danger, the following resources are available.

Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566)

Addiction and Mental Health Center (1 800 463-2338)

Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

If you need immediate help, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

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