United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
R. UNDERHILL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Kenya Brown (“Brown”), incarcerated
and pro se, has filed a complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against Department of Correction
(“DOC”) Commissioner Scott Semple, Dr. Elizabeth
Coursen, Dr. Paul Chaplin, Dr. Berger, Nurse Jane Ventrella,
“C.S.W.” Matthew Green, Deputy Warden Jeffery
Zegerzewski, Counselor Michelle King, Lieutenant Paulsinski,
Warden Antonio Santiago, Dr. Joslyn Cruz, Dr. Henry Crabb,
and Nurse Nicole Karabestos for violating his rights under
the First Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and the Prison Rape
Elimination Act of 2003 (“PREA”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 15601-15609. Brown is suing all defendants in
their individual capacities except Semple, who is being sued
in his official capacity. Brown seeks declaratory,
injunctive, and monetary relief. On August 17, 2017,
Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel, granted Brown's
motion to proceed in forma pauperis. For the
following reasons, I dismiss the complaint in part.
Standard of Review
section 1915A of Title 28 of the United States Code, I must
review prisoner civil complaints and dismiss any portion of
the complaint that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Although detailed
allegations are not required, the complaint must include
sufficient facts to afford the defendants fair notice of the
claims and the grounds upon which they are based and to
demonstrate a right to relief. Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Conclusory
allegations are not sufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The plaintiff must plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. Nevertheless, it is well-established that
“[p]ro se complaints ‘must be
construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest
arguments that they suggest.'” Sykes v. Bank of
Am., 723 F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting
Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471,
474 (2d Cir. 2006)); see also Tracy v. Freshwater,
623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010) (discussing special rules
of solicitude for pro se litigants).
complaint sets forth the following allegations. In 2014,
while incarcerated at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional
Institution in Uncasville, Connecticut, Brown was assigned to
mental health treatment and therapy with Dr. Coursen. Over
the course of the next two years, Coursen drugged and
sexually abused Brown during their scheduled appointments.
During the first few sessions, she told Brown that she wanted
to end each session on “good terms” by hugging
Brown and kissing him on the cheek. Coursen also gave Brown
literature to read on Sigmund Freud and other materials
discussing repressed sexuality. Over time, her behavior
progressed to making sexual advances on Brown and,
eventually, sexual assault. In December 2014, Coursen felt
Brown's penis and performed oral sex on him.
January 2015, after engaging in oral sex with Coursen for the
third time, Brown refused treatment, which prompted Coursen
to write letters to Brown, suggesting that he “lacked
consideration for her circumstance, and need not be jealous
or upset.” She also wrote that Brown “had no
right to judge her” because of rumors that she was
having extra-marital affairs. Brown did not respond to her
February 2015, Brown saw Coursen again and was
“manipulated into [partaking] in vaginal sex by way of
penetration.” After acknowledging that Brown was
uncomfortable performing sexual acts with her, Coursen
suggested that Brown undergo hypnosis. She also presented
gifts to Brown and often had him ingest Klonopin, which she
told him would help him “take the edge off” so
that he could better perform intercourse. After engaging in
sexual intercourse, Coursen often threatened Brown. She told
him that her boyfriend was a correction officer and would
harm him if he told anyone about their sexual encounters.
time, Zegerzewski, Chaplin, Santiago, Berger, Green, and King
learned about Coursen's behavior but failed to report or
discipline her. Green and King specifically received
complaints about Coursen's sexual misconduct and use of
drugs but failed to report their findings to the proper
authorities. On more than one occasion, King witnessed Brown
and Coursen seated in the dark in Coursen's office.
During those times, Coursen would conduct therapeutic
hypnosis and make sexual gestures. Lieutenant Paulsinski also
learned of Coursen's behavior but failed to report it.
Eventually, Green complained about what he had learned to
Coursen's supervisor, Dr. Crabb. However, Crabb refused
to report Coursen or take any steps to protect Brown or any
other inmates from her behavior. The failure of Crabb,
Zegerzewski, Chaplin, Santiago, Berger, Green, King, and
Paulsinski to report or take any preventative measures in
response to Coursen's behavior enabled Coursen to
continue sexually abusing Brown.
often tried to avoid his therapy sessions with Coursen. He
also submitted complaints to Chaplin about her behavior well
into 2016, but Chaplin took no action to help Brown and,
often times, engaged in actions “to deter”
Brown's efforts to file said complaints. When Brown
continued to file complaints, Nurses Ventrella and Karabestos
“conspired with” Chaplin and Berger to deter his
efforts by taking possession of his written complaints,
thereby preventing them from being addressed.
learning that Brown had sought redress for his problems with
Coursen, Chaplin, Berger, and Dr. Cruz assigned him to Dr.
Mark Frane, another psychologist with whom Brown had a
conflict of interest. Chaplin, Cruz, and Berger knew that
Frane had been “indifferent to inmates.”
Chaplin's, Cruz's, and Berger's “deliberate
indifferen[ce] to [Brown's] psychological needs . . .
caused [him] to suffer a sever[e] addiction to Klonopin, and
has raised multiple counts of constitutional and statutory
violations against the thirteen named defendants, many of
which overlap. I will address each of his claims separately.
Eighth Amendment Sexual Abuse
first claims that Coursen sexually abused him, in violation
of his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual
punishment. “The Eighth Amendment protects prisoners
from cruel and unusual punishment by prison officials.”
Crawford v. Cuomo, 796 F.3d 252, 256 (2d Cir. 2015).
To state an Eighth Amendment claim, a prisoner must allege
that the defendants acted with “a subjectively
sufficiently culpable state of mind” and “that
the conduct was ...