Federal judge dismisses lawsuit alleging civil rights violations against Wiscasset jail inmate

Posted Jan. 17, 2014, at 1:45 p.m.

WISCASSET, Maine — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations by Two Bridges Regional Jail, its administrators and a former corrections officer against a woman whom a guard was convicted of assaulting there.

The suit was filed in August by Amanda Hayes, 34, who reported being assaulted in 2011 while an inmate at the jail. In April 2012, former corrections officer Brian Bossie pleaded guilty in Lincoln County Superior Court to charges of assault and unlawful sexual touching, based on the incident involving Hayes at Two Bridges, a Wiscasset correctional facility shared by Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties.

The charge of unlawful sexual touching was dismissed, and the assault charge was later dismissed as part of a deferred disposition

In August 2013, Hayes sued the jail, Col. Mark Westrum, Two Bridges’ top administrator, Lt. Richard Thompson and Bossie, arguing that her civil rights were violated during the incident.

Following a settlement agreed upon by all parties in December, Judge John H. Rich III ruled in favor of the jail, Westrum and Thompson. Rich dismissed the suit on Dec. 31.

As part of the ruling, Hayes agreed not to seek recovery of any legal fees, according to court documents.

Attorney Peter Marchesi, who represented the jail, Westrum and Thompson — but not Bossie — on Thursday called the ruling “a full vindication” of his clients.

He said that the judgment in favor of his clients represents an “admission” by Hayes that the allegations against the jail and its administrators were false.

Neither Westrum nor Bossie’s attorney, John Wall III, returned calls for comment.

Hayes’ attorney, Hunter Tzovarras, said Hayes did not contest the dismissal even though Bossie admitted in court that he did sexually assault her.

Hayes said Bossie entered her cell, forced her to kiss him on the mouth and then groped her buttocks, according to court documents.

In her suit against the administration and Bossie, Hayes claimed Bossie also made unwelcome and unprovoked sexual comments that “frightened” her and “requested that Hayes be naked when he did cell checks.”

Hayes alleged that Westrum and Thompson knew of Bossie’s sexual advances and history of inappropriate conduct, and that they “created a work environment within the jail that tacitly condoned or approved of Officer Bossie’s inappropriate behavior toward female inmates,” according to court documents.

The suit sought damages for “assault on [Hayes’] 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.”

The case was transferred from Lincoln County Superior Court to U.S. District Court, and both parties later told Rich III that they had reached a settlement in which Rich would rule in favor of the jail, Westrum and Thompson and dismiss the suit.

Tzovarras said Hayes filed suit because Bossie pleaded guilty to the assault, “and we thought at the time it was filed that there was merit to the charge and allegations [against] the higher-ups. We agreed to settle but it doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Bossie pleaded guilty to the assault charge.”

“I think all I can add about why the client agreed to settle the case is she felt rather than continue on with the litigation process, she agreed it’d be in her best interest to reach a settlement agreement now and obtain some closure with this incident,” Tzovarras said by phone Friday.

“From the perspective of the jail, Mr. Westrum and Mr. Thompson, the fact that the plaintiff agreed that the court could enter judgment for them is a full vindication and, frankly, an express admission that all of the allegations and complaints against the jail, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Westrum were inaccurate and not supported by any evidence,” Marchesi said by phone Thursday.

Marchesi continued, “In my experience having represented the counties and the jails for the better part of a quarter-century, it is not at all uncommon for inmates to either completely fabricate or significant and substantially embellish certain events in order to realize some financial gain.”

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