United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. REINHARD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the court for preliminary review of the
complaint filed by plaintiff Michael Fencel, an inmate in the
Illinois Department of Corrections who currently resides at
Stateville Correctional Center. (). Plaintiff brings this
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
constitutional deprivations resulting from the failure to
protect him from a dangerous cellmate at Menard Correctional
Center (“Menard”). He seeks monetary damages.
(Id. at 15).
case is now before the court for preliminary review of the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section
1915A, the court is required to screen prisoner complaints to
filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). 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 must be
dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). At this juncture, the
factual allegations are to be liberally construed.
Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 6');">577 F.3d 816,
821 (7th Cir. 2009). The complaint survives screening as
alleges that his trouble at Menard began on August 4, 2017,
when he was placed in a cell with inmate Joshua W. Kruger.
(, p. 11). Kruger immediately indicated that plaintiff
would need to abide by his rules to co-habit successfully. A
few weeks after they became cellmates, Kruger asked plaintiff
to help him run a “store” business with purchases
made from the commissary. Plaintiff agreed, in exchange for
$20. Kruger sought the help because inmates are generally
limited to shopping at the commissary twice a month, with a
spending limit of $100 per shopping trip. Plaintiff began
receiving money to his prison account from Kruger's
family, and he made shopping trips to the commissary. After a
trip on October 17, 2017, Kruger told plaintiff that
plaintiff owed him an amount that would be disclosed at a
later date. (Id.).
mid-October into early November, Kruger began asking
plaintiff personal and sexual questions. (Id. at
11). On November 4, 2017, plaintiff passed a letter to C/O
defendant Cross during chow expressing discomfort with
Kruger's conversations. Cross ignored plaintiff's
written request for a cell change, but Kruger somehow got
wind of the incident; that night, he beat plaintiff's
chest and ribs and told him he could not move cells. In the
days that followed, Kruger recommenced uncomfortable
conversations, but plaintiff was afraid to alert staff to the
November 12, 2017, plaintiff alleges that Kruger forced him
to perform oral and anal sex. (Id. at 11). After the
rape, Kruger threatened plaintiff and told him if he reported
the incident he would be beaten or killed. (Id. at
12). On November 19, 2017, Kruger raped plaintiff a second
time via forced oral and anal sex. Kruger forced anal sex a
third time on November 24, 2017. Finally, on November 27,
2017, Plaintiff wrote a letter about his rape to defendant
Doe 1 (a lieutenant) and John Doe 2 (a correctional officer)
came to plaintiff's cell on November 28, 2017 to remove
him and Kruger. (Id. at 12). Plaintiff was taken to
the health care unit where John Does 3 and 4 (internal
affairs officers) were waiting to interview him. As he tried
to explain his recent experiences with Kruger, John Does 3
and 4 repeatedly asked him if he was just lying to try to get
a cell change, and they indicated that if that was the case,
they could help him. Plaintiff insisted that on multiple
occasions Kruger grabbed him, shoved him to the back of the
cell, pulled down his shorts and underwear, applied some sort
of lubricant to a glove and raped him anally. At one point,
John Doe 3 left the room and John Doe 4 became argumentative
with plaintiff about the situation. Plaintiff asked to
proceed with the medical rape test, and John Doe 4 asked him
if he really wanted to go through with the embarrassing test.
the medical examination, Dr. Siddiqui, two nurses, and John
Does 3 and 4 were present in the room. (Id. at 12).
John Does 3 and 4 continued a course of mocking and harassing
plaintiff that they began during the interview. After the
test concluded, plaintiff was kept in the medical unit
overnight. At some point, John Doe 4 and a nurse entered his
room to give him pads because he apparently bled on the table
during the exam and they wanted to monitor for continued
bleeding. (Id. at 12-13).
next day, A. Masterson interviewed plaintiff about the rapes
he reported. (Id. at 13). She told him that if he
was lying he would face time in segregation, but he insisted
he was not lying. He described the rape to Masterson the same
way he described it to John Does 3 and 4. He also informed
her that those two individuals mocked him during their
interview the previous day. Masterson indicated that she did
not John Does 3 and 4 and that she disagreed with their
interview style. She concluded the interview by telling
plaintiff that Kruger was going to take a lie detector test,
and she urged plaintiff not to tell his mother about the
ongoing issue. (Id.).
November 30, 2017, plaintiff spoke with mental health
counselor Hill who told him that he would have six months in
a single man cell, followed by placement with a safe
cellmate. (Id.). Hill confirmed that he should not
tell his mother about the situation. (Id.).
after arriving in a single man cell in segregation, A.
Masterson came to interview plaintiff a second time.
(Id.). During the interview she told him that she
received a letter from Kruger who claimed the sex was
consensual. Plaintiff denied Kruger's claim. Masterson
then informed plaintiff that Kruger had been misclassified as
an individual guilty of sexual misconduct while at Pontiac
Correctional Center, when in fact he should have been
classified as an individual guilty of sexual assault for his
conduct at Pontiac. In light of this information, Masterson
told plaintiff she could get him placed in protective custody
and transferred to Pontiac. (Id.).
December 7, 2017, plaintiff told his mother about the sexual
assaults by Kruger. (Id.). On December 9, 2017,
plaintiff decided to call the Prison Rape Elimination Act
(“PREA”) hotline to report the rape. On December
21, 2017, plaintiff was taken into protective custody. The
next day, Masterson wrote him a disciplinary ticket for
admitting to consensual sex with Kruger. Because of the
ticket, plaintiff was taken to segregation. (Id.).
alleges that John Doe 3 and 4, Ms. Hill, and Masterson began
trying to cover up the interactions with plaintiff to avoid
any finding of deliberate indifference on their behalf for
failing to protect him. (Id.). Plaintiff believes
that Kruger received a lie detector test, but he did not.
(Id. at 13-14). At a January 2, 2018, disciplinary
committee meeting, the committee decided that the ticket was
founded. (Id. at 14). Hill indicated at the meeting
that plaintiff should be designated as seriously mentally ill
and he should serve six months in segregation. Plaintiff
subsequently served six months in segregation.
concludes that prison officials were aware of Kruger being
dangerous prior to the two being housed together.
(Id.). Despite this knowledge, officials refused
before and after the three rapes to provide plaintiff with
any help or protection. Instead, they reframed the incidents
as consensual to avoid liability. Plaintiff alleges that
Baldwin, Lashbrook, Spiller, Masterson, Cross, Hill, Kruger,
and John Does 1-4 all acted with deliberate indifference to
his safety and well-being. (Id.).
appended grievances and disciplinary documents to his
complaint. (Id. at 16-36). A December 9, 2017
grievance indicates that plaintiff asked one officer at chow,
and then asked Cross to move him to another cell because his
cellmate was scaring him with sexual questions. (Id.
at 35-36). Plaintiff claims his requests fell on silent ears
but Kruger somehow learned of his fear and raped him that
night. Plaintiff alleges that he wrote to the Warden about
the rape. The grievance alleges that the officers who did not
respond to his requests for help were negligent, the
grievance was deemed not an emergency. (Id.).
December 22, 2017 Offender Disciplinary Report indicates that
plaintiff admitted to having consensual sex at an interview,
in violation of the prison sexual misconduct policy.
(Id. at 16). The report was rewritten on January 3,
2018, to include Kruger's name. The rewritten report
indicated that plaintiff told the committee that “after
the encounter on the 26th, he felt wrong for his willingness
to perform sexual acts with Kruger and reported the sexual
acts as PREA/Sexual assault to the Warden via letter. Kruger
volunteered to a CVSA and was found truthful in his
statements that he did not sexually assault [plaintiff] and
that they planned to have sex that evening.”
(Id.). The report indicates that because
Kruger's truthful statements and plaintiff's
admission corroborate each other the plaintiff properly
received a disciplinary ticket. (Id.).
filed a grievance on January 3, 2018, wherein he stated that
he was 90% not guilty and 10% guilty. (Id. at
18-19). He went on to explain that he felt like a guilty
“dumbass” for agreeing to open a store with
Kruger and ultimately having sex with him. Plaintiff
indicated that he decided to open the store to alleviate
pressure on his family members who were trying to provide him
with money from outside of prison. In the grievance he
requested that the ticket be dismissed and he be transferred
to a new facility on ...