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Wilson v. David

February 17, 2010

COURTNEY WILSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSEPH F. DAVID, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY Senior United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Plaintiff Courtney Wilson commenced the instant action against Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising out of a claimed sexual assault by New York State Corrections Officer Kevin Biegel while she was an inmate at the Greene Correction Facility. Presently before the Court is Defendants Joseph F. David and Robert A. Fitch's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 seeking dismissal of the Complaint against them in its entirety.

I. FACTS

At all times relevant hereto, Plaintiff was an inmate in the custody of the New York Department of Corrections ("DOCS"). Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Greene Correctional Facility from July 7, 2005 until December 23, 2005. During Plaintiff's incarceration, Defendant Joseph F. David ("David") was the Superintendent of Greene Correctional Facility and Defendant Robert A. Fitch ("Fitch") was the Deputy Superintendent of Security.

Plaintiff alleges that, commencing in September 2005 and ending in November 2005, Defendant Correction Officer Kevin Biegel ("Biegel") repeatedly sexually assaulted her.*fn1 Plaintiff claims that, in November 2005, Biegel forced Plaintiff to perform oral sex on him, that Biegel ejaculated in Plaintiff's mouth, and that Plaintiff spit the ejaculate into a brown paper towel and into a plastic garbage bag. Plaintiff contends that she then gave half of the paper towel to another inmate, Martin Cortez, and mailed the other half to her mother.

During the aforementioned three month period, Plaintiff never reported Biegel's conduct to Defendants Fitch, David, or anyone else at Greene Correctional Facility or DOCS. Plaintiff never requested that she be assigned to another job,*fn2 that she be placed in protective custody, or that she be transferred from Greene Correctional Facility.

On November 14, 2005, Plaintiff's mother, Synthia Johnson ("Johnson"), telephoned the Inspector General ("IG") and reported that Plaintiff was being sexually abused by a corrections officer at Greene Correctional Facility. Johnson advised the IG that she was in possession of the piece of paper towel purportedly containing Biegel's seminal fluid. The IG opened an investigation into the allegations.

On December 2, 2005, IG investigators interviewed Plaintiff at Greene Correctional Facility. IG investigators also interviewed Martin Cortez and obtained the piece of paper towel containing Biegel's seminal fluid. The IG turned the paper towel over to the New York State Police ("NYSP") Forensic Laboratory for analysis. The IG also interviewed Johnson and obtained the paper towel from her, which also was turned over the NYSP for analysis. On December 2, 2005, Plaintiff was removed from her program at the gymnasium. On December 23, 2005, Plaintiff was transferred out of Greene Correctional Facility.

A May 31, 2006 laboratory report confirmed the presence of semen from a single, unknown male donor on the paper towel. The IG then requested assistance from the NYSP in investigating the matter. On June 7, 2006, a NYSP investigator interviewed Biegel. During the interview, Biegel denied the allegations of any improper sexual activity with an inmate. During the course of the interview, Biegel discarded a piece of chewing gum in the trash. The NYSP investigator recovered the chewing gum and submitted it to the lab for DNA analysis. Analysis revealed that the DNA recovered from the chewing gum matched the DNA recovered from the paper towel obtained from Johnson.

On September 3, 2006, Biegel was arrested and charged with a Criminal Sex Act in the Third Degree in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 130.40(3). On September 4, 2006, Biegel was placed on administrative leave. On September 5, 2006, Biegel was suspended without pay pursuant to the applicable collective bargaining agreement. On September 11, 2006, Biegel was issued a Notice of Discipline that, among other things, called for his dismissal from employment.

On November 1, 2007, Biegel was acquitted of the charges against him. Notwithstanding the acquittal, the Bureau of Labor Relations proceeded to terminate Biegel's employment. On January 4, 2008, Biegel settled the Notice of Discipline by agreeing to retire, pay a fine, and forfeit his accrued annual and holiday leave. On January 9, 2008, the IG placed a "do not rehire" memorandum in Biegel's employment file. Thereafter, Biegel sought to be reinstated by DOCS. DOCS denied the request. This denial is the subject of a state court proceeding.

In 2004, prior to the incidents alleged in the Complaint, Corrections Sergeant Peter Merante was assigned responsibility for investigating an allegation of sexual abuse made by, "AJ," an inmate. "AJ" reported that he was pat-frisked by an officer named "Bidell" and that, during the course of the pat-frisk, "Bidell" rubbed the inmate's thighs and moved his hands in a circular motion on the inmate's genitals. Merante did not uncover any evidence supporting the allegation and concluded that the allegations of sexual abuse could not be substantiated and that "AJ" was the subject of a proper pat-frisk.

Similar allegations against Biegel were made by inmate "DS." The allegations by DS were separately investigated by the corrections staff at Greene Correctional Facility and the IG. Both the corrections staff and the IG concluded that the allegations could not be substantiated.

Plaintiff commenced the instant action asserting violations of her rights as protected by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Presently before the Court is Defendants David and Fitch's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 ...


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