WISCASSET, Maine — A former inmate on Wednesday filed suit in U.S. District Court claiming that her civil rights were violated when she was sexually assaulted while incarcerated at Two Bridges Regional Jail in 2011.
The suit, filed by Amanda Hayes, 34, names the jail, Administrator Mark Westrum, Lt. Richard Thompson and then-corrections officer Brian Bossie as defendants.
“We have reason to believe that the higher-ups in the jail knew that Mr. Bossie had a history of harassing the women in the jail and being inappropriate with them — sending them gifts or saying inappropriate things to them — and didn’t really do anything about it,” Hayes’ attorney, Hunter J. Tzovarras of Bangor, said Thursday. “We think they knew he was a risk to them … and kind of condoned it or turned a blind eye to it.”
According to court documents, Bossie pleaded guilty in Lincoln County Superior Court in April 2012 to assault and unlawful sexual touching for a Sept. 30, 2011, incident in which he entered Hayes’ cell, forced her to kiss him on the mouth, and then groped her buttocks. Tzovarras said Thursday that the charge of unlawful sexual touching was dismissed, and the assault charge was later dismissed as part of a deferred disposition.
Hayes claims that while serving an eight-month sentence for violating probation on a theft charge, Bossie also made unwelcome and unprovoked sexual comments that “frightened” her, and “requested that Hayes be naked when he did cell checks.”
The suit alleges that Westrum and Thompson knew of Bossie’s sexual advances and history of inappropriate conduct, which included sexual comments and exchanging gifts and personal letters with female inmates, including Hayes, and that they “created a work environment within the jail that tacitly condoned or approved of Officer Bossie’s inappropriate behavior toward female inmates.”
Neither Peter T. Marchesi of Waterville, who represents the defendants, nor Westrum returned phone calls Thursday.
In 2008, Westrum resigned as sheriff of Sagadahoc County to become administrator of Two Bridges Regional Jail. Before his resignation, he was accused by a former employee of inappropriately touching him on his thigh during a 2006 fishing trip on the Kennebec River. Westrum denied the allegations, and during a formal investigation both he and the employee passed polygraph tests. The investigator ultimately concluded that he did not have enough evidence to prove that the incident took place.
In 2008, The Times Record reported that two previous chief deputies who served under Westrum “witnessed unethical or questionable practices by the sheriff,” but that Westrum dismissed the two as “disgruntled employees … engaged in questionable conduct themselves.”
Tzovarras said Thursday that, as a result of the incident with Bossie, Hayes is fearful and uncomfortable in public situations and has been treated for increased anxiety. The suit seeks damages for “assault on her bodily integrity, but more because of the damage from the fear and anxiety it’s caused her, and the jail not protecting her from Mr. Bossie.”
To reach a sexual assault advocate, call the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Line at 800-871-7741, TTY 888-458-5599. This free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine. Calls are automatically routed to the closest sexual violence service provider.