Attorney seeks to dismiss inmate's claim of sexual harassment
Bangor — An attorney for a Maine State Prison sergeant is seeking the dismissal of an inmate's May civil rights lawsuit against her client that alleges the prison employee sexually harassed him.
Inmate Michael Fortin, 33, filed the complaint in federal court May 30, alleging a sergeant at the correctional facility made him feel insecure by vocalizing a sexual fascination with feet. Fortin said that in April, the sergeant told him he stole inmates' shoes, brought them home and used them to stimulate himself sexually.
The defendant is not being named as he has not been charged with a crime or convicted of this civil offense.
Assistant Attorney General Diane Sleek filed a motion to dismiss the suit Aug. 18 in federal court, asserting Fortin has failed to state a claim, as the alleged statement cannot be construed as a violation of his rights. Sleek said although the comment would be unprofessional, it does not threaten sexual assault — essentially, the comment is about the sergeant's own nonviolent sexual proclivities when he is at home, the motion states.
The claim is not actionable under the 8th Amendment — prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment — she said, and further attests Fortin cannot claim damages for an emotional injury.
Fortin, in the complaint, said he feels his security has been taken away, and as a result of the reported comments and feels vulnerable. Fortin said he was a victim of sexual assault as a child and is seeking $100,000 in damages and the termination of the defendant, according to the complaint.
Fortin said he was interviewed by an investigator concerning the misconduct, and said the investigator, who was not named, acknowledged there was evidence of sexual harassment.
Fortin is scheduled to be released in June 2015 upon completion of a three-and-a-half year sentence for theft and burglary.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.