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Doe v. United States

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

December 17, 2014

JANE DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; RICHARD SEAMAN; and DOE DEFENDANTS 1-10, Defendants

For Jane Doe, Plaintiff: Della A. Belatti, LEAD ATTORNEY, Eric A. Seitz, AAL, ALC, Honolulu, HI; Eric A. Seitz, LEAD ATTORNEY, A Law Corporation, Honolulu, HI; Ronald N.W. Kim, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of James Stone, Honolulu, HI; Sarah R. Devine, LEAD ATTORNEY, Eric A. Seitz, Attorney at Law, Honolulu, HI.

For United States of America, Defendant: Thomas A. Helper, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the United States Attorney, Honolulu, HI.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA'S MOTION FOR DISMISSAL

Alan C. Kay, Senior United States District Judge.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On November 29, 2012, Plaintiff Jane Doe (" Doe") filed a Complaint against Defendants United States of America (the " Government") and Richard Seaman (" Seaman"). (Doc. No. 1.) On September 24, 2013, the Government filed an Answer to Doe's Complaint. (Doc. No. 18.)

On September 10, 2014, the Government filed the instant Motion for Dismissal and Summary Judgment, [1] along with a concise statement of facts and exhibits attached thereto. (Doc. Nos. 32 & 33.) On November 17, 2014, Doe filed an Opposition, along with a concise statement of facts and exhibits attached thereto. (Doc. Nos. 40 & 41.) On November 24, 2014, the Government filed a Reply.[2] (Doc. No. 43.)

The Court held a hearing regarding the Government's motion on December 8, 2014.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND[3]

Between September and December 2011, Seaman was employed as a correctional officer with the Bureau of Prisons (" BOP") and assigned to the Federal Detention Center (" FDC") in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Def.'s CSF Ex. 1 at 3.) During that time frame, Seaman engaged in sexual activity, including oral sex, with Doe, a female inmate, while he was supervising her work in the FDC commissary. (Id. at 3-4.) The sexual activity took place in isolated areas of the commissary, or in a storage room behind a closed door. (Id. at 4.) On December 17, 2012, Seaman pled guilty to one count of sexual abuse of a ward in Cr. No. 12-00400 SOM. (Id. at 2.)

In support of the instant motion, the Government submits the declaration of Cully Stearns, Special Investigative Agent for the FDC. Stearns describes the layout of the floor on which the commissary is located and states that, " [a]s a result of this layout, there is considerable foot traffic going past the commissary during business hours." (Stearns Decl. ¶ 3.) Stearns further states that

[t]he door to the commissary has an elongated window from which individuals can see to the back commissary wall. Inside the commissary to the right as you enter is the staff office which has windows on nearly the entire length of the facing wall and a large window on the wall of the office facing the rear of the commissary.

(Id. ¶ 4.) According to Stearns, the FDC utilizes video surveillance to monitor the facility, but that the exact location and capabilities of the video surveillance is generally not provided to inmates or staff. (Id. ¶ 5.) Stearns also certifies log book entries indicating that, on several dates between September and December 2011, Doe was taken out of her housing unit with other inmates to work in the commissary. (Id. ¶ 6; Def.'s CSF Ex. 5.)

The Government also submits the declaration of David Carl, Correctional Services Administrator for the BOP's Western Regional Office. Carl states that the BOP has " no rule, policy, practice, or procedure that [] prevent[s] one staff member from supervising one inmate, outside the presence of other staff members or video cameras, under normal circumstances." (Carl Decl. ¶ 2.) Similarly, Carl states that the BOP has " no rule, policy, practice, or procedure" that " requires all areas of a correctional facility to be subject to video monitoring" or that " prohibits staff from going into areas that are not subject to video monitoring while supervising inmates." (Id. ¶ 3.)

In opposition to the instant motion, Doe submits the affidavit of another female inmate at the FDC (" Doe 2"). In this affidavit, dated February 15, 2007, Doe 2 alleges that, from January to February 2007, Seaman committed several acts of misconduct against her while he was supervising her work in the commissary detail. (Pl.'s CSF Ex. A.) Without citing any authority, the Government states in its motion that Doe 2 " later admitted her claim was false." (Mot. at 12.) At the December 8 hearing, Doe verified the Government's statement and told the Court that Doe 2 did in fact recant her allegations.

Seaman testified during his deposition that the FDC investigated whether he engaged in sexual misconduct with Doe 2, but that no action was taken as a result of the investigation. (Pl.'s CSF Ex. C at 42:7-43:15.) Seaman testified that the FDC did not provide him additional training or supervision in light of the sexual misconduct investigation. (Id. at 44:24-45:5.)

As to Plaintiff Doe, Seaman testified that he engaged in sexual activity with her on five separate occasions between September and December 2011. (Id. at 25:13-25:18.) Seaman testified that, each time he had sexual relations with Doe, he would make " special arrangements" to ensure " that the two of [them] would be alone." (Def.'s CSF Ex. 6 at 25:19-25:23.) According to Seaman, Doe " cooperate[d] in [these] arrangements" by " agree[ing] to come along with me." (Id. 25:24-26:3.) Seaman further testified that all sexual activity took place in areas of the facility that were not covered by cameras and that he knew this at the time. (Pl.'s CSF Ex. C at 40:4-40:9.) Seaman also testified that it was common knowledge among the FDC staff that there were areas in the facility that were not monitored by camera and that incidents of sexual misconduct had taken place in these areas. (Id. at 40:10-40:14; 41:4-41:23.)

Seaman testified that he and Doe sent dozens of emails to each other. (Def.'s CSF Ex. 6 at 30:1-30:25.) Seaman testified that he used a personal email address and sent the emails outside of " institutional grounds." (Id.) Seaman also testified that there was a prison rule prohibiting correctional officers from emailing inmates. (Id.)

Seaman also testified as to the extent of his sexual misconduct training:

Q [by Mr. Helper, counsel for the Government]: Did you receive training before you started, your initial training, on social or sexual interaction with inmates?
A: During institution familiarization and at Glynco, yes.
Q: Okay. And describe for me what training you received.
A: It was -- from what I remember, it was basically the same thing. They just go over what to do and what not to do.
Q: Okay. Well, tell me what they said.
A: Okay. Well, that interaction that -- illegal sexual contact between inmates is illegal and that you can face incarceration.
Q: Is there any -- is there such thing as legal sexual contact with an inmate?
A: Not in an -- not in an institution.
. . .
Q [by Mr. Seitz, counsel for Doe]: And just going back to some of the questions that you were asked earlier by Mr. Helper, the only training that you ever received regarding sexual misconduct by staff involving inmates was approximately an hour on a couple of occasions; is that correct?
A: Once a year.
Q: Once a year.
A. (Nods head up and down).
Q. And it consisted just simply of an hour of training; ...

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