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Lilian Castilla v. City of New York

November 14, 2012

LILIAN CASTILLA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK CITY DETECTIVE OSCAR SANDINO, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A DETECTIVE OF NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, AND POLICE OFFICERS JOHN DOE OFFICERS 1--10, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sidney H. Stein, U.S. District Judge.

OPINION & ORDER

Lilian Castilla brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 against the City of New York and former NYPD detective Oscar Sandino for violations of her civil rights. Castilla alleges that Sandino, with the assistance of several unnamed police officers,*fn1 sexually assaulted and repeatedly threatened her in violation of her constitutional rights. The City now moves for summary judgment on the ground that it is not liable as a matter of law pursuant to the well known case of Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). For the reasons set forth below, the City's motion is granted.

I.BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from this Court's "'assiduous review'" of the record.*fn2 Jordan v. Viacom Outdoor Grp., 475 F. Supp. 2d 440, 442 n.1

(S.D.N.Y. 2007) (quoting Holtz v. Rockefeller & Co., 258 F.3d 62, 73 (2d Cir. 2001)). This Court views, as it must, "the evidence in the light most favorable to the non‐moving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in its favor." Fabozzi v. Lexington Ins. Co., 601 F.3d 88, 90 (2d Cir. 2010) (quotation marks omitted). Importantly, Sandino admitted the central allegations against him when he pled guilty in October 2010 to one count of a misdemeanor information charging him with violating Castilla's civil rights.*fn3

A. Sandino's Sexual Abuse of Castilla

On February 16, 2008, Sandino and several other police officers entered Castilla's apartment to execute a search warrant as part of a drug investigation of her then‐boyfriend. (Castilla Aff. ¶ 1, annexed to plaintiff's 56.1 Statement as Exhibit A.) At some point after entering, Sandino ordered Castilla into a bedroom where he forced her to undress while he watched. (Id. ¶¶ 1--4.) As Castilla stripped down to her underwear, Sandino made sexual comments. (Id. ¶¶ 3--4.) He left the room when a female officer knocked on the door and entered the bedroom. (Id. ¶ 4.)

A few hours after the arrival of the police, Sandino directed that Castilla be taken to the 110th Precinct. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 18.) Sandino took Castilla in his car along with Vito Ardito, who was an NYPD sergeant and the supervising officer for the execution of the search warrant. (Id. ¶ 8; Pl.'s 56.1, Ex. D at 19; IAB Rpt. at 3, annexed to the Ashanti Declaration as Exhibit F.) During the ride, Sandino threatened Castilla with the removal of her children by the City's Administration for Children's Services ("ACS") if she did not agree to have sex with him. (Castilla Aff. ¶¶ 10--17; Sandino Plea Tr. at 23, United States v. Sandino, No. 10‐cr‐331 (E.D.N.Y.), Dkt. No. 24.)

At the precinct, Sandino brought Castilla into an interrogation room and asked for her answer to his sexual proposition. (Castilla Aff. ¶ 20.) Castilla remained silent as Sandino again threatened to take away her children. (Id. ¶¶ 20--21.) At one point, another detective entered the interrogation room and he and Sandino attempted to recruit Castilla as a confidential informant,*fn4 again suggesting that her children could be taken away from her if she refused. (Id. ¶¶ 23--25; Pl.'s 56.1, Ex. F at 83--84, 146.) When the other detective left the room, Sandino continued to demand an answer to his sexual proposition and physically threatened Castilla. (Castilla Aff. ¶¶ 27--32.)

While still in the interrogation room with Sandino, Castilla asked permission to use the bathroom. (Id. ¶ 34; Sandino Plea Tr. at 23.) Sandino handcuffed Castilla and escorted her to the bathroom, but when Castilla attempted to leave the stall she was using, Sandino blocked her way, displayed his sidearm, and again ordered Castilla to strip. (Castilla Aff. ¶¶ 37--38; Pl.'s 56.1, Ex. F at 95.) As Sandino admitted during his plea, he "then proceeded to touch [Castilla's] vaginal area and forced [her] to perform oral sex on [him]." (Sandino Plea Tr. at 23.) After sodomizing her, Sandino told Castilla, "Now I know I can trust you." (Castilla Aff. ¶ 40.) Castilla states that she saw several other NYPD officers in the area as she left the bathroom with Sandino. (Id. ¶ 41.)

Over the next few weeks, Sandino repeatedly called and texted Castilla in an effort to arrange sexual encounters. (Id. ¶¶ 46--53; IAB Rpt. at 3--4.) Castilla did not return Sandino's calls and asked her boyfriend's criminal defense attorney to try to get Sandino to stop contacting her. (Castilla Aff. ¶¶ 56--58.) Sandino allegedly responded by threatening Castilla's brother and repeating his threats to have her children removed from her. (Id. ¶¶ 59--60.) Sandino even showed up at Castilla's apartment with another officer during a visit by a caseworker from the ACS. (Id. ¶¶ 63--64.) During that visit, he allegedly took Castilla into a room and tried to intimidate her into staying silent about the sexual relationship he was pursuing. (Id. ¶¶ 67--69.) He also reiterated his request that Castilla work as a confidential informant for the NYPD. (Pl.'s 56.1, Ex. F at 146--47.)

In early March 2008, Castilla decided to report Sandino's severe misconduct and arranged a meeting with the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau ("IAB"). (Castilla Aff. ¶ 72.) At that meeting, Castilla provided IAB investigators with recordings of Sandino's calls to her and copies of his text messages. (Id.; IAB Rpt. at 3--4.) The IAB then set up a meeting between Castilla and Sandino at a diner in Queens and recorded their conversation. (Castilla Aff. ¶ 73.) Sandino was suspicious of being recorded and made a final threat against Castilla. (Id. ¶ 74.) Castilla became so frightened that, according to her, IAB officers had to hurry her away from the scene. (Id. ¶ 75.)

Sandino's abuse of Castilla led to his criminal prosecution in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. See United States v. Sandino, No. 10‐cr‐331 (E.D.N.Y.); IAB Rpt. at 5. On October 8, 2010, Sandino pled guilty to depriving Castilla of her rights under color of law in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242, and admitted the conduct that gave rise to Castilla's lawsuit. (Sandino Plea Tr. at 22--23.) *fn5 Sandino was subsequently sentenced principally to 12 months' imprisonment for violating Castilla's constitutional rights and a second, consecutive, 12ÔÇÉmonth term for similarly ...


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