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Johnson v. Conley

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 14, 2017

OFFICER CONLEY et al ., Defendants.


          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Roger Johnson is currently incarcerated at Northern Correctional Institution. He has filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Based on my initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I conclude that the complaint should proceed and be served on 15 of the 17 named defendants.


         The following allegations from plaintiff's complaint are accepted as true for purposes of the Court's initial review. In August 2014, plaintiff worked in the textile program in the clothing factory at Osborn Correctional Institution. On August 4, 2014, defendant Officer Conley and defendant Supervisor Zawistowski forced an inmate to remove the privacy partitions that surrounded the toilets used by inmate workers in the clothing factory. When plaintiff complained, defendants Conley and Zawistowski made a joke and laughed at him. Doc. #1 at 6 (¶ 7).

         A few minutes after the partitions were removed, defendant industries manager Ray Monroe entered the clothing factory. He explained that the bathroom partitions had been removed because someone had written negative statements on the partitions about an inmate named Santana. He indicated that the partitions would not be returned until the individual who wrote on them came forward. He cursed at plaintiff and the other inmates, calling them “a bunch of fucking animals.” Id. at 6 (¶ 9). He also threatened to terminate the inmates' jobs if they had a problem with the situation, stating “you guys don't have any rights to privacy, you take showers in your boxers with one another and some of you get butt-naked with one another.” Id. at 6-7 (¶ 9). One of the inmates expressed concern about an individual named Mrs. Reyes-Greaves, who was then on vacation, and whether she would see the inmates use the toilet when she returned to work. Defendant Monroe responded that he would have another officer “black out the window and lock you in while you're using the bathroom.” Id. at 7 (¶ 9).

         That same day, plaintiff sent a written complaint to Commissioner Dzurenda, stating that he had been sexually harassed, threatened, and intimidated in the clothing factory. Commissioner Dzurenda never responded to the complaint. Id. at 7 (¶ 11).

         For the next two days, plaintiff was forced to use the toilets in the clothing factory in full view of other inmates and staff. He claims that he was “prayed [sic] upon by several known dangerous violent sex offenders” while he was using the toilet on these days. Id. at 7 (¶ 9). Defendants Hussain and Beecher, both supervisors, were aware that the privacy partitions had been removed but took no action to correct or report the problem. Id. at 6-7 (¶¶ 8, 10).

         About one month later, on September 7, 2014, plaintiff made a telephone call to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) hotline and spoke with defendant David McNeil, the director of the PREA Investigations Unit for the State of Connecticut. Plaintiff recounted the partition incident and reported that he had been sexually harassed, threatened, and intimidated. Plaintiff believed that the phone conversation would be kept confidential, but immediately after the call, defendant McNeil contacted Osborn and informed defendant Lieutenant Correctional Officer Jamie Shepard that plaintiff had filed a PREA complaint. Id. at 7-8 (¶ 12).

         Defendant Shepard called plaintiff to his office ten minutes after plaintiff's phone call with McNeil. When plaintiff arrived, defendants Shepard, Spruil, and Hebert surrounded plaintiff in a corner of the office. Shepard yelled and cursed at plaintiff, called him a “little bitch, ” and interrogated him about his conversation with the PREA unit. Id. at 8 (¶ 13). Plaintiff did not understand why defendants were questioning him about the PREA complaint, which he believed was confidential. Because he was afraid that defendants Shepard, Spruil, and Hebert might harm him if he refused to answer, plaintiff ultimately explained why he called the PREA unit. Ibid. The three defendants then threatened and intimidated plaintiff in an effort to force him to drop his PREA complaint. Plaintiff refused to withdraw the complaint. Defendants eventually permitted plaintiff to leave Shepard's office, but afterwards they collaborated to cover up his complaint by not filing a report or conducting any investigation into the complaint. Id. at 8-9 (¶¶ 14-16).

         On October 25, 2014, plaintiff attempted to mail legal documents to the PREA unit. He gave the documents to defendant Mia Lawrence, a counselor, in a sealed envelope. Defendant Lawrence destroyed the documents to prevent them from being mailed. Plaintiff alleges that this was not the first time defendant Lawrence interfered with his mail: in 2013, Lawrence threatened to prevent plaintiff from mailing legal documents to court and was subsequently investigated by the district administrator. Id. at 9-10 (¶ 17).

         On March 13, 2015, defendant Hussain removed plaintiff from his job in the clothing factory and transferred him to a job in the officer's clothing work shop, because plaintiff was a “trouble maker.” Id. at 15 (¶ 39). Plaintiff alleges that Hussain transferred him in retaliation for plaintiff's earlier complaints of sexual harassment. Ibid.

         In May 2015, plaintiff attempted to file a criminal complaint against the individuals involved in the sexual harassment and subsequent cover-up. Because he was concerned that staff members were interfering with his outgoing mail, he submitted the complaint by faxing it to the Connecticut State Police. Id. at 13 (¶ 34).

         On June 12, 2015, defendant Captain Luis Colon called plaintiff to his office. When plaintiff arrived in the office, he was confronted by Colon, as well as by defendants Correctional Officer Acus and Lieutenant Brown. Colon threatened plaintiff and forced him to stand in a corner of the office. Colon locked the door and refused to let plaintiff leave. When plaintiff told defendants that he felt threatened and afraid for his life, Colon laughed at plaintiff and said, “how about I put your ass in seg[regation], maybe you'll feel safe there.” Id. at 13 (¶¶ 32-33). Defendant Acus then showed plaintiff a copy of the criminal complaint that plaintiff had faxed to the Connecticut State Police in May 2015. A Connecticut State Police officer had forwarded plaintiff's complaint to defendant Deputy Commissioner Monica Rinaldi, who in turn forwarded it to defendant Warden Maldonado. Warden Maldonado then emailed Colon and told him to “take care of” the matter. Id. at 13-14 (¶ 35).

         During plaintiff's confinement in Colon's office, Acus, Colon, and Brown threatened plaintiff's life; pushed him into a wall, causing him to hit his head; and threatened to remove him from his job and transfer him to another part of the prison. Id. at 14 (ΒΆ 35). Lieutenant Ruggeri then entered the office and asked what was going on. After hearing about plaintiff's criminal complaint, Lieutenant Ruggeri ...

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