Suit against guards dismissed

Judge: Workers accused of exploiting inmate did not violate her rights
Melissa Topey
Aug 9, 2014

 

A federal judge in Toledo’s U.S. District Court has thrown out a lawsuit involving the alleged sexual exploitation of a schizophrenic inmate who in was left naked in a cell for hours in January 2012.

Judge James Carr handed down the ruling July 25 that dismissed the case against Sandusky County and Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, along with jail guards Frank Kaiser, Charles Pump and Joshua Smith. Jenna Caster filed the lawsuit in January arguing her constitutional rights to be free of cruel and unusual punishment were violated in 2012, when she was 21 years old.

The lawsuit filed has a narrow scope of claim, or legal assertion, that corrections officers failed to do anything about the mental illness that caused her actions, such as getting her medication or transporting her to an area hospital for treatment.

But in the lawsuit she does not allege any injury.

“She alleges no lasting injuries that resulted, or treatment she required, following the events leading to this suit,” Carr wrote in his ruling.

He went on to declare that the actions of the jail guards do not rise to conduct that violated Caster’s rights as an inmate.

“Even if the defendants ‘egged her on’ inappropriately, their actions did not violate the Constitution,” the ruling states. “Even acts of touching do not rise to that level ... Thus, conduct by custodians that is verbal, rather than physical, is insufficient to state a cause of action under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The lawsuit Caster filed laid out the ordeal that began when she returned to the Sandusky County jail from a court hearing. 

Jail guards allege she threatened to kill herself and harm jail guards when they returned. They placed her in a suicide gown and placed her on watch. Guards allegedly did not place her in a restraint chair, common practice when an inmate is acting out and could possibly hurt themselves or others. They also allegedly failed to provide her with her medication for her schizophrenia.

Caster tried to flush her suicide gown and flooded her cell with urine and toilet water. Corrections officers then allegedly left her nude in the cell for the next six hours. During that time, they ignored another deputy’s request to clothe her and clean her cell. Pump and Smith are also accused of verbally interacting with Caster and encouraging her to act out in her cell.

“You can say anything you want to people like (the inmate) because no one will believe them,” Kaiser, who was supervising the shift, allegedly told them.

A grand jury determined no criminal violations occurred.

Kaiser and Pump were fired after the Sandusky Register reported on the incident. Smith resigned.

Kaiser and Pump were each paid $5,000 after being fired to drop any appeals of the termination and to not make any disparaging remarks about Overmyer, their former boss.

Multiple attempts to contact attorneys for the county and for Caster were not returned.

Comments

Julie R.

People nowadays sue and win for a little dog bite, yet this joke judge found nothing wrong with what those filthy pervert jail guards did to a mentally ill woman? Somebody should check out this judge. Like the saying goes --- birds of a feather tend to flock together.

West

Like

underthebridge

Double like

Lil DAB

Triple

queenjhb

compassion was lacking all the way around.

WeThePeople1965

Sandusky county, that's your answer.

KURTje

These *&%$@ jailers give good L.E. a bad name.

Fromthe419

Say whaaaaaaaaat? unbelievable

lugnut2511

Anything coming out of Sandusky county is just sad all the way around. How is it there seems to never be any wrongdoing in the justice eyes, but to the citizens its a blatant crime. I feel sorry for the citizen of Sandusky county and with that being said, I hope your child, wife, grandchildren never have to go through such a system as that place has. It's sad all the way around that place.

Justme...

Just because it was disgusting, doesn't make it illegal. They lost their jobs, and they deserved to lose their jobs. But they didn't break any laws.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Justme. In Ohio, then, it's lawful to deny a mentally ill jail inmate her medication, keep her naked in an observational jail cell and have county workers with authority over her well being and care, custody and control encourage her to masturbate and perform other lewd acts for their personal sexual gratification. It's also appropriate to have taxpayers pay the guards $5,000 each and give them job references that hide the reasons they were fired in exchange for their silence. That makes sense?

Justme...

I didn't realize this article was an editorial. However...admittedly I don't know about the law. My assumption is if a federal judge says its not illegal to encourage an inmate to masturbate, then its not illegal. I don't know what the facts are on the medication, so I don't know what's fact and what's speculation. As for the %5,000, again, what is fact and what is speculation? I assumed from the article the $5,000 was to avoid spending even more money defending the termination. Attorneys are always willing to take on termination cases in hopes of a settlement, and that would cost the taxpayers way more then $5,000. I'm not defending these guards, but is the part about "exchange for their silence" fact or speculation? Just curious.

TheProfit

She wasn't denied medication, nor was she encouraged to do anything for any reason, both a Grand Jury and a Federal Court have stated as much...but that just doesn't sell papers now, does it? Could it at all be possible that you (The Register) backed the wrong horse from the start and you (The Register) would look ignorant if not stupid if proven otherwise? Rather than just accepting the fact that you "jumped the gun" then tried and "hanged" these men without all the information and by adding your own brand of sensationalism....no, wait, you cant do that, the sheep would never abide if that were the case. I had forgotten that you (The Register) would need journalistic integrity to man up and admit that you may have been wrong.

one_sandusky_dad

Very crazy. The law is not for the people anymore. My step son is mentally challenged with a disability. So when a principle threatened to put his head threw a wall an kill him I thought for sure police would take care of that. They took a report. An prosecutor refused to file charges because he is a community person an of the church in Huron. The school failed to stop bullying. The coaches an teachers failed him. So when I went to football to pick him up an seen him being assaulted by a bully I yelled for the kid to stop. Thought doing right thing protecting my child. But I was arrested for disorderly conduct. An still today the police charge me but refuse any help for our family cause kids dad is a good olé boy in the community. Now waiting on supreme court to give me a answer as I reported all this to them thru an attorney for disabled children

Julie R.

Did that happen in Huron? If so, what church is it in Huron? St. Pete's by any chance? Also, who was the prosecutor --- city or county?

underthebridge

I think the decision rendered by Judge Carr was complete and udder BS. Interestingly, the ruling was not rendered within a county courtroom. It was rendered within a federal courtroom.

I hope this plaintiff and her attorneys appeal the decision.

Factitious

"She alleges no lasting injuries." Why is no one questioning this? Who's her attorney? Does she need a better one?

Babo

I read the decision by Judge Carr to dismiss the suit and the plaintiff's amended complaint which Judge Carr did not allow to be entered. IMO, it's just another example of the federal bench protecting the misogynistic culture prevalent in NW Ohio government circles. Women really are the new "black"

In her original complaint her lawyers only claimed violations under the 8th Amendment which does not apply to the State and does not plead violations of equal protection of her rights under the 14th Amendment which does apply to the State. Her original complaint also did not plead any harm. Judge Carr dismissed the case based on the poorly drafted Original complaint.

Her lawyers tried to file an Amended complaint to address these shortcomings after the State filed a Motion to Dismiss. The Amended Complaint is much better (had better claims and averred harm) though it should have had more factual background demonstrating the knowledge that Sandusky had of her mental health problems based on on a prior incarceration. However, Judge Carr would not allow it to be filed by agreeing with the counsel for Sandusky County that the outcome would still be the same and it was futile to allow it to be filed.

I don't agree that it was futile and believe there was enormous interest in not allowing this case to go forward to prevent a jury from hearing the evidence. IMO, Judge Carr's decision is disingenuous and intended to prevent the public to hear the facts of the case to protect the government.

If one understands the politics and history of the federal court in Toledo, this decision becomes easier to understand. Sandusky County is represented by Teresa Grigsby of a law firm that has held the contract to defend local state governments against civil rights claims for well over a decade. Senior US District Judge David Katz was a partner and the firm has a long history of protecting law enforcement and public official misconduct including sexual and drug abuse claims to the point where the firm IMO has become complicit in the crimes. In addition the local FBI office was led by a woman hating agent in charge for years (Spiocchi) and that culture still permeates the Toledo office so that the office refuses to investigate any complaints against law enforcement in the NW Ohio area.

This decision is intended to wear down the Plaintiff by forcing her to spend money on an appeal to protect the law enforcement and legal status quo in NW Ohio all of whom get paid to continue to deny this woman her rights. It's disgusting and morally reprehensible

underthebridge

I appreciate the background information, Babo and it makes me even more sick.

Blackberry Phale

The judge was nominated by Bill 'Sexual Predator' Clinton.

anonymousdonor

The lawsuit was poorly written and did not connect any of the guards to specific actions. Also, the entire lawsuit has zero evidence of any wrong doing. A grand jury found these men innocent of any wrong doing, yet the SR continues to slander them and accuse them of being perverts. Could it be that the inmate acted on her own free will as many inmates do?

underthebridge

Stop defending these poor excuses for corrections officers let alone human beings. There was some evidence of wrong-doing and because of that they were fired. Cushy firing, but they were fired.

The grand jury did not find them innocent of criminal wrong-doing. The grand jury said that there was not enough evidence to proceed with criminal charges. When a grand jury decides not to proceed it isn't an exoneration. That means they did not violate any criminal statutes. Who knew there might need to be a "don't make a mentally ill inmate masturbate after you've withheld her meds" law, but apparently there isn't.

But now the question is did these individuals violate this woman's constitutional rights? The standard for that is very different.

If you have a person in your life with mental illness or disability, you know how vulnerable they are. This makes me sick that you'd defend these people.

TheProfit

The Grand Jury came back with a unanimous no-bill AND a report specifically stating that there was NO criminal wrong doing. Combine that with a ruling from a Federal Court that NO civil rights were violated. The terminations were changed to resignations and they were paid out because the county would have paid out 5 times as much after the arbitrator ruled they were fired with out cause. Someone got the story wrong....Im going to go out on a limb and say it probably WASN'T the courts.

Babo

You omit that the grand jury presentation was made by Bill Schenck a man now under suspicion himself of sexual harassment. Also, the Federal Judge declined to allow the amended complaint to be filed so one cannot state that the decision was made on the full merits of the case.

It's the same old story in Ohio..so many prosecutors, jurists, and LEO's have been compromised in the past through sexual/drug misconduct and or abuse of office to obtain their offices, that there's an unstated rule of professional courtesy whenever when of their brothers is caught.

And like clockwork one of their paid shills appears to defend the lack of integrity in the system by which they all PROFIT.

TheProfit

Shhh.....dont make them think too hard anonymous...they arent good at doing that on their own

TheProfit

Hmmm....I notice the full ruling wasn't posted...I'm starting to sense a pattern insofar as this paper not wanting it to be easily seen that they've taken some liberty with what they want everyone to think are the facts...

Babo

They ought to publish it as its many flaws could then be more easily pointed out.