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$5001 Jury Award to Illinois Prisoner in Harassment and Conspiracy Suit

by David Reutter


An Illinois federal jury awarded $50,001.00 in damages to the plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging First and Fourteenth Amendment violations related to abuse and harassment of the plaintiff.

On April 2, 2017, Craig A. Childress filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against several defendants for their on-going abuse and constant harassment. Allegations included violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and conspiracy to deprive Childress of those same rights.

This notice documented a series of incidents to show a continuing pattern of abuse and harassment by employees of Rushville Treatment and Detention Facility. Childress is a spinal cord injured paraplegic with a flaccid neurogenic bladder due to an incident with law enforcement officials in 1996. And, as such, Childress requires special medical treatment for his condition.

On long van transportations, Childress averred he needs his hands free for self-catheterization. After repeated requests to this effect, he stated Shift Commander Sally Hougas called him to her office on June 20, 2012 to threaten him with assignment to temp management and confinement with a "black-box" if he didn't stop his complaining about being cuffed during these transportations.

When he and others on his behalf reported Hougas' treatment, he stated James Clayton and Tarry Williams, guards at Rushville, threatened him and told him there would be reprisals for his actions.

Childress alleged he was physically threatened by Clayton on July 13, 2012. As soon as this occurred, he told Clayton he was afraid of Clayton and no longer wished to be alone with Clayton. Upon returning to his living unit he reported this incident, but he said he was never contacted about any follow up on this situation.

All of these incidents, Childress alleged, occurred because he exercised his right to contact "whistle blowing" agencies about his treatment at Rushville Detention Center. He stated that Clayton used his personal connections with the Office of the Executive Inspector General (OEIG) to render any of Childress' complaints filed there meaningless. He said that Clayton trapped him behind an electronic door and threatened him for a full eight minutes over Childress' complaints to the OEIG.

On December 12, 2012 he told Paul Mann, the guard in the control center, that he needed to report to medical to renew his supply of catheters. After verbal abuse and threats from Mann, Childress was allowed to pick up his catheters. Childress reported Paul Mann for his actions but stated that none of his grievances were responded to.

On December 18, 2012 Childress said he reported Mann to the shift commander. There he was told that this defendant refused to process any complaint filed against a staff member. He said he filed an appeal against this which also was never responded to.

On February 24, 2013 Childress stated that Mann came over the intercom in his living unit and verbally attacked him. He began making derogatory, threatening, and degrading remarks that served no purpose other than to inflict pain, suffering, and mental anguish upon Childress.

Summary judgment was granted terminating guards Sandra Simpson, John Doe, Jane Doe, David Biermann, Joseph Hankins, Forrest Ashby, and Breg Scott from the case in 2015. The case then proceeded to a trial by jury where judgments were entered for Hougas and Clayton. Judgment was entered for Mann for the incident of December 9, 2012 and against Mann for incidents subsequent to that. Childress was awarded $1.00 in compensatory damages and $5,000.00 for punitive damages. See: Childress v. Ashby, U.S.C., C. D. Illinois, Case No. 13-3074.

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Related legal case

Childress v. Ashby