United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert, District Judge.
currently incarcerated at the Madison County Jail (“the
Jail”), has brought this pro se civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims
that Defendant has repeatedly subjected him to sexual
harassment, and retaliated against him for resisting. This
case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
§ 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner
complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion
of the Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks
for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that “no
reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.”
Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir.
2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross
“the line between possibility and plausibility.”
Id. at 557. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on
its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations
as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th
Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or
implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a
plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574,
581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not
accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a
cause of action or conclusory legal statements.”
Id. At the same time, however, the factual
allegations of a pro se complaint are to be
liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d
742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
these standards, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims
survive threshold review under § 1915A.
has been an inmate at the Jail since December 2013. (Doc. 1,
p. 6). Officer Hare has allegedly been sexually harassing
Plaintiff for several years. Hare's conduct includes
“verbal sexual threats, ” and Hare has also put
his hands on Plaintiff's body on “numerous
occasions for reasons of a sexual nature.” Id.
Hare has also threatened to make Plaintiff's life in jail
much harder if Plaintiff reported Hare's harassment.
December 2013, Hare began commenting on Plaintiff's body,
“cat-calling” him, and making obscene gestures
such as simulating oral sex. (Doc. 1, p. 6-7). In response to
one such gesture, Plaintiff called Hare a “faggot,
” and Hare then locked Plaintiff down for 48 hours.
After that, Plaintiff kept quiet in response to Hare's
threats and comments. (Doc. 1 p. 7).
escalated his behavior to “actual sexual contact”
such as singling Plaintiff out to conduct a body search that
would end with Hare fondling Plaintiff's genitals, during
which Hare would whisper comments like, “you coming
around yet?” (Doc. 1, p. 7). Many times, Hare would
slap Plaintiff's buttocks and comment on his physique
when he was out of range of surveillance cameras. When
Plaintiff yelled at him to stop, Hare would lock Plaintiff
down in his cell and tell him that life could be
“easier” for him if he would “just let it
had himself moved to the S.H.U., which had cameras in the
cell, in an effort to stay safe. However, Hare's
harassment continued, including an incident when he would not
allow Plaintiff to get his clothes after a shower unless
Plaintiff lifted his towel and showed Hare his genitals.
(Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff reluctantly did so, and Hare said,
“I knew you'd come around.” Id.
then moved to lockdown Block E-S, where Hare's harassment
became worse. On many occasions while Plaintiff was out of
his cell for recreation, Hare would enter the empty cell,
take Plaintiff's pencils, and draw doodles on the wall
depicting Hare and Plaintiff engaging in sexual acts. (Doc.
1, p. 8). Plaintiff washed off the drawings and said nothing
out of fear of harsher treatment. Once, Hare walked in on
Plaintiff while he was showering and commented on
Plaintiff's genitals. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff yelled at
him to get out. When other inmates asked what happened,
Plaintiff was too embarrassed to say anything. Another time,
Plaintiff was in the E-S Dayroom alone when Hare walked in
abruptly, pushed Plaintiff against the wall, grabbed
Plaintiff's genitals, and tried to put his mouth on
Plaintiff's mouth. Plaintiff tried to get away, but Hare
squeezed his testicles tighter and said, “you're
gonna stop playing games with me soldier boy.” (Doc. 1,
p. 9). Plaintiff describes this as the most scared he had
ever been in his life, and he was traumatized by the
few weeks, Plaintiff was able to move to Block B-S where he
would not be by himself. Even so, a few weeks before
Plaintiff filed this Complaint, he was last in line on the
way to church when Hare came up and told him, “It's
not over, I'm gonna get you one way or another.”
Id. Plaintiff believes that an aggravated battery
charge that was filed against him on May 7, 2018, was
engineered by Hare to retaliate against Plaintiff after he
refused to submit to Hare's “homosexual
desires.” (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 9, 10). Hare had told
Plaintiff that he wanted him sexually, after Hare found out
that Plaintiff is a combat veteran and had a high-profile
case. (Doc. 1, p. 10).
wrote a grievance on Hare because he refused to be his victim
any more. He alleges that Hare has targeted other inmates in
the same way for years, and Hare needs to be stopped. After
filing the instant Complaint, Plaintiff submitted several
exhibits (Docs. 6, 8) indicating that an investigation had
been opened on Hare, but that it was closed when
Plaintiff's accusations were determined to be unfounded.
(Doc. 6, p. 2). The exhibits inlcude statements from other
detainees describing similar problems with Hare.
relief, Plaintiff wants Madison County to ensure that he and
other inmates will be safe from Hare's “predatory