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North Carolina Prisoner, Victim of Sexual Assault, Awarded One Dollar in Damages

North Carolina Prisoner, Victim of Sexual Assault, Awarded One Dollar in Damages

Shane Smith was incarcerated at North Carolina’s Craggy Correctional Center (CCC) when he was sexually assaulted multiple times by a prison supervisor. Even though he presented evidence of the assaults, even though he had requested a transfer and even though the supervisor pleaded guilty and was sent to prison herself, a jury saw fit to award Smith just one dollar.

Because Smith possessed superior computer skills, he held a job as a clerk at CCC from 1994 through 2005. In 2003, Edith Pope became the assistant supervisor at the facility. Smith, who was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder, arson and burglary, was assigned to work in Pope’s office even though it was located in a restricted area.

In February 2005, another prison employee noticed Pope partially undressed in her office with Smith. Upon seeing the employee, Pope quickly covered herself.

Two months later, in April, a unit lieutenant filed a complaint alleging that Pope was spending long periods of her off time in her office with Smith.

On May 16, 2005, a special count was conducted at the unit and all prisoners were accounted for except Smith, who was eventually discovered in Pope’s office.

The following month, George Pope discovered that his wife was having sexual relations with Smith and threatened him over the phone. Encouraged by her husband, Edith Pope filed charges of rape against Smith.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation looked into Pope’s rape allegations. They discovered that Smith had not raped Pope but had been performing various job duties that were only supposed to be performed by prison employees.

In July 2005, Pope confessed during a polygraph test that she and Smith had engaged in consensual sex; they reportedly had sex at least 10 times. However, prisoners can not legally consent to sexual activity with staff members.

Pope pleaded guilty on August 8, 2006 in Buncombe County Superior Court to seven counts of sexual activity by a custodian. She was sentenced to 22 to 36 months in prison, released in August 2008 and must now register as a sex offender.

Smith subsequently filed suit in federal court, and on December 5, 2013 a jury concluded that Pope had “... maliciously and sadistically committed acts that violate[d] Shane Smith’s constitutional rights.” The jurors awarded him one dollar in compensatory damages. See: Smith v. Beck, U.S.D.C. (M.D. NC), Case No. 1:08-cv-00166-TDS-WWD.

Smith appealed the judgment and prior orders by the district court, and the Fourth Circuit issued an unpublished ruling on July 1, 2014. The Court of Appeals found the lower court had properly granted summary judgment to other defendants on Smith’s Eighth Amendment and retaliation claims, and had correctly denied his motion to strike. Smith also challenged the district court’s ruling on a Rule 50 motion, but failed to produce a transcript. “The appellant bears the burden of including in the record on appeal a transcript of all parts of the proceedings material to the issues raised on appeal,” the appellate court wrote, affirming the district court. See: Smith v. Beck, 577 Fed.Appx. 196 (4th Cir. 2014).


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Smith v. Beck

Smith v. Beck