December 27, 2001

Father says Lori Berenson was sexually abused

                 LIMA, Peru (AP) -- The father of imprisoned American Lori Berenson
                 accused guards of abusing his daughter during a prison transfer, but officials
                 denied Thursday that she had been harmed.

                 Berenson, 32, was convicted of collaborating with leftist rebels and is now serving
                 a 20-year prison term.

                 Mark Berenson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from New York
                 City that his daughter had described a violent transfer last week in a brief
                 conversation from her new prison in Cajamarca, some 350 miles (563 kilometers)
                 north of Lima.

                 "She is angered at the sexual abuse, the touching of her genitals and the groping,"
                 the father said Wednesday.

                 His daughter said guards had rushed into her prison wing lobbing tear gas and
                 beating several other inmates before whisking her away, he said.

                 The director of the Chorrillos women's prison in Lima, police Col. Ruben de la
                 Vega, said guards had used tear gas after prisoners blocked the entrance to their
                 cellblock with three tables and a bench.

                 De la Vega said Berenson had not fought the guards, but had refused to submit to a
                 medical exam before her transfer.

                 Peru's Justice Ministry said that Berenson had been moved to the Cajamarca prison
                 for refusing to cooperate in rehabilitation programs and also, for security reasons.

                 The ministry denied allegations of "any grave injury" during the move, without
                 referring to sexual abuse.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.