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Painter v. Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Lynchburg Division

July 31, 2018

Katherine Painter, Plaintiff,
v.
Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, ET AL., Defendants.

          FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

          NORMAN K. MOON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Katherine Painter (“Plaintiff”) has moved for default judgment against the lone remaining Defendant in this case, Timothy Farrar (“Defendant”). (Dkt. 42). Defendant previously worked as a correctional officer at the Blue Ridge Regional Jail. Plaintiff alleges that while she was at the jail he sexually assaulted and harassed her several times. She brings suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking compensatory and punitive damages for injuries resulting from the sexual assaults. Defendant has failed to appear or defend the case in any way. In November 2017, the Clerk docketed an entry of default. (Dkt. 40). In late May 2018, the Court held an evidentiary hearing on damages. (Dkt. 57). Due to issues regarding notice, the Court withheld ruling on the motion for default judgment until now. Plaintiff's motion for default judgment will be granted, and damages will be awarded in the amount of $732, 888.

         I. Findings of Fact

         1. In the spring of 2015, Plaintiff, a 31 year old female, was imprisoned at the Lynchburg Adult Detention Center. (Compl. ¶ 16; H'rg Tr. at 8).[1]

         2. Defendant was an employee at the jail who worked the night shift in the “intake department.” (Compl. at ¶ 17).

         3. Shortly after her arrival, Plaintiff was placed on suicide watch. (Compl. at ¶ 18). Under this classification, she was prevented from wearing normal clothes. Id. at ¶ 19. Instead, she was given only a “suicide blanket” to cover herself and stay warm. Id.

         4. On one occasion, Defendant threatened to take her blanket away from her. (Compl. at ¶ 20). Further, he would withhold toilet paper and snacks unless she revealed herself to him. Id. at ¶¶ 21, 22. He would also watch her use the bathroom from outside her cell. Id. at ¶ 23.

         5. Plaintiff had a gastrointestinal (“GI”) tract disorder, which Defendant knew about. He obtained access to her medication and then used it as a means to extort sexual favors. (Compl. at ¶¶ 24-31).

         6. In April 2015, Defendant withheld Plaintiff's medication until she performed oral sex on him. (Compl. at ¶ 31). Due to her GI sickness and the need for her medication, she relented and performed oral sex on him. Id. at ¶¶ 31-39. She was in too much pain from her sickness and too afraid of the consequences to deny him. Id. at ¶ 39. Electronic records show that the door to her cell was open for nine minutes on the night of the incident. Id. at ¶ 40. Another correctional officer and an inmate in a neighboring cell overheard the sexual assault. Id. at ¶ 41-49.

         7. After the incident, she felt upset, discouraged, drained, and “lesser of a person.” (H'rg Tr. at 13).

         8. In May 2015, Defendant again withheld Plaintiff's medication in exchange for sexual favors-this time engaging in forced vaginal intercourse. (Compl. at ¶¶ 59-61). She informed him that she could not perform oral sex, as he requested, because she had just had a dental procedure completed. Id. ¶¶ 56-57. He replied “that he was going to do ‘something,' stood Plaintiff up, [] forcibly bent her body over a wooden bench in her cell, ” and raped her. Id. at ¶¶ 59-60.

         9. After the incident, Plaintiff felt discouraged, shame, and as though she had “no self-worth.” (H'rg Tr. at 18). She cried herself to sleep that night because of the shame and the pain of experiencing such violence. Id. at 20.

         10. Plaintiff reported the incidents to another inmate, her mother, and her significant other at the time. (Compl. at ¶¶ 63-64, 70, 76). She received mental health counseling for the remainder of her time in jail. (H'rg Tr. at 21).

         11. As a result of the sexual assaults, Plaintiff suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), acute anxiety, and depression. (Compl. at ¶ 94; H'rg Tr. at 24). She has difficulty sleeping, out of fear of reliving the incident, and ...


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