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$300,000 Settlement for New York Guard’s Fondling of Prisoner

The New York State Department of Correctional Services agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a prisoner’s Eighth Amendment claim involving a sexual assault.

Arthur Kill Correctional Facility prisoner Stephen Lewis advised his unit guard on November 8, 2007 that he had lost his ID card. The guard told Lewis to go to the administration desk and he would call to inform them of the lost ID.

Upon his arrival at the administration desk, Lewis advised guard T. Burroughs of his lost ID card and said he had been referred there by another guard. Burroughs asked “Where did you lose it,” and Lewis answered, “If I knew, it wouldn’t be lost.” Burroughs responded in an upset manner to which Lewis replied, “You shouldn’t talk to people like that.”

Burroughs and two other guards, Pruell and Smith, construed that statement as a threat and ordered Lewis to put his hands on the wall. Burroughs then began a very aggressive body search; during the search he fondled Lewis’ penis and testicles.

When Lewis protested, Burroughs said “Shut up and face the wall. I’m not going to tell you again.” Burroughs then fondled Lewis “for 10 seconds without any of the other officers saying anything about this heinous act on my person,” according to Lewis’ civil rights complaint. According to his lawsuit, numerous grievances had been filed accusing Burroughs of fondling other prisoners.

The $300,000 settlement in the case was reached on June 10, 2010 after a jury trial had begun. Lewis was represented by New York City attorneys Yonatan Even and Alexandra Reeve. See: Lewis v. Fischer, U.S.D.C. (E.D. NY), Case No. 1:08-cv-03027-JG-LB.

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Related legal case

Lewis v. Fischer