In federal case, has suit against prison dismissed

Inmate pleads guilty to assault

By Juliette Laaka | May 28, 2014

Rockland — A Maine State Prison inmate with a lengthy conviction record of sexual and physical assault pleaded guilty May 28 to assaulting a prison employee.

James E. Brensinger Jr., 29, originally from Hampden before his incarceration in Warren, was sentenced to serve nine months in prison after he conceded to the allegation against him.

A count of unlawful sexual touching against the female victim was dismissed. According to the Maine Department of Correction's website, Brensinger's earliest possible release date is November 2017.

Brensinger's conviction history includes two counts of assault on an officer in 2012, unlawful sexual contact in 2009 in Penobscot County, unlawful sexual touching and assault in 2009 in Washington County, and unlawful sexual contact in 2008 in Penobscot County.

Brensinger filed a civil lawsuit against the state and a fellow inmate in January, claiming his civil rights were violated when he was beaten with a shovel by convicted murderer Guy E. Hunnewell while the two men were cleaning their pod. Brensinger claimed the prison and its employees showed indifference to his safety.

In the complaint, Brensinger wrote he would be happy to receive $60,000 from the state for his pain and suffering resulting form the attack.

On May 22, Magistrate Judge John C. Nivison recommended the complaint against Hunnewell, the state, and a corrections officer be dismissed for lack of cause. The court ordered Brensinger to show cause as to why the case should not be dismissed for lack of prosecution, as requested by the state, and he failed to do so, said court documents.

The federal case against Hunnewell is recommended to be dismissed because Brensinger did not prove Hunnewell is a state actor, as required under the section he filed the lawsuit under. The court presumed he will take state action against Hunnewell for the assault, but the federal court has no jurisdiction over the assault claim.

Hunnewell pleaded guilty in April to assaulting Brensinger with a shovel and also to killing inmate Guy Powell with a guitar.

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Juliette Laaka
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Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.

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