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Mayfield v. Montgomery County Correctional Facility

February 12, 2009

EILEEN MAYFIELD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rufe, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Eileen Mayfield brings this action against Defendants Montgomery County ("Montco"), Julio Algarin and Lawrence Roth alleging she was sexually harassed during her term of employment at Montgomery County Correctional Facility ("MCCF"), and that she was criminally prosecuted because she sought legal recourse based on the harassment. Before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Document No. 106], Plaintiff's Response [Document No. 109] and Defendants' Reply [Document No. 110]. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion in part and deny in part.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiff worked as a correctional officer ("CO") at MCCF beginning in 1982 until her termination on October 19, 2000.*fn2 During the time period relevant to this action, Plaintiff was assigned to the Commissary, a facility within MCCF that sells personal items to inmates and is staffed by both COs and inmates.*fn3 Also during that time period, Defendant Roth was warden of MCCF, Defendant Algarin the deputy warden.*fn4 At some point, Plaintiff was placed in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Commissary.*fn5

In late February of 1999, it came to light that from late 1998 to early 1999, Plaintiff had exchanged letters with Gene White, an inmate who worked in the Commissary.*fn6 On or around February 25, 1999, White was written up by CO Mikhail Dillman for stealing underwear while working in the Commissary.*fn7 White told Captain Albert L. Ottinger that Plaintiff had given him the underwear, which Plaintiff denied.*fn8 After White was found guilty of the theft at his due process hearing, he gave Captain Ottinger the letters Plaintiff wrote him.*fn9 Captain Ottinger then gave those original letters to Defendant Algarin,*fn10 who stated that he kept them in Plaintiff's file until Major James Frey requested them.*fn11 In her deposition, Plaintiff testified that Defendant Algarin called her into his office on February 26, 1999 and proceeded to yell and curse at her for writing the letters to White.*fn12 He told her that White claimed to have had sex with her, which she denied.*fn13 Plaintiff stated that no one else was present during this meeting with Defendant Algarin.*fn14 Defendant Algarin then put Plaintiff on probation and demoted her, placing CO Mikhail Dillman in charge of the Commissary.*fn15

On or about August 10, 2000, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant Algarin under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA") for sexual harassment.*fn16 On August 17, 2000, Plaintiff went to Defendant Roth's office and told him that she had filed suit against Defendant Algarin.*fn17 According to Plaintiff, half an hour after her meeting with Defendant Roth, Defendant Algarin asked to speak with her in Defendant Roth's office.*fn18 He asked her to withdraw the complaint.*fn19 Plaintiff stated that the very next day, Defendant Algarin again asked her to withdraw her complaint.*fn20 Plaintiff testified that Defendant Algarin also stated that he had letters saying that all the inmates who had worked and stolen from the Commissary had actually been given the stolen items by Plaintiff.*fn21 In early September, Plaintiff told Defendant Algarin that she was going to continue with the lawsuit and according to Plaintiff, he replied, "Well, I got to do what I got to do."*fn22

Defendant Algarin denied saying this statement, claiming that he actually said "do what you have to do."*fn23 Defendant Algarin also denied ever having asked Plaintiff to withdraw her complaint.*fn24

According to Plaintiff's deposition, "Algarin did anything he wanted in [MCCF]. Warden Roth was openly molding [Defendant Algarin] into being the next warden. . . they were so tight."*fn25

In his deposition, CO Dillman testified that during the first or second week of September 2000, he spoke with Defendant Roth in his office.*fn26 CO Dillman stated that Defendant Roth said that "he didn't care what relationship I had with Officer Mayfield there, but if she was my friend, meaning his friend, that he would strongly suggest that she drop the case" and that it was Defendant Roth's understanding that there would be a criminal action.*fn27 CO Dillman stated that when he replied that it was up to the "EOC [sic] whether or not there is any kind of criminal action," Defendant Roth responded that he was referring to Officer Mayfield and that he understood that there were letters that would lead to criminal charges.*fn28 According to CO Dillman, he assumed that Defendant Roth was referring to the Gene White letters and told him that Plaintiff had already been punished for the same.*fn29 CO Dillman testified that Defendant Roth "smiled and said that, you know, if she was my friend, again, I would tell her strongly there to think before she does it."*fn30 CO Dillman also testified that at some point, Clifton Glenn, an inmate who had also worked in the Commissary and also received letters from Plaintiff, said to him "You guys better watch your back because they're watching you."*fn31 CO Dillman believed Glenn was referring to Defendant Algarin and the staff.*fn32

On October 2, 2000, Lieutenant Negron found contraband in the cell of inmate Jason Mascione, specifically highlighters, pens, pencils and markers.*fn33 Mascione claimed that CO Dillman had given him the contraband.*fn34 CO Dillman denied this and was instructed to write a misconduct report on the incident.*fn35 After he wrote the report, CO Dillman was informed by Lieutenant Negron that he had determined that CO Dillman had lied about not giving Mascione the contraband.*fn36

Lieutenant Negron then filed an Employee Violation Report against CO Dillman for lying to a supervisor dated October 5, 2000.*fn37 Contrary to normal procedure, Mascione's misconduct report was never logged in the misconduct log.*fn38

On or around October 5, 2000, CO Kathleen Brighter verbally reported to Major Frey that Mascione said Plaintiff had "grabbed his ass."*fn39 Major Frey then interviewed Mascione, who stated that Plaintiff "was flirting with him and there was one occurrence where she grabbed him in his buttocks area."*fn40 Major Frey then interviewed other inmates who worked in the Commissary, including Clifton Glenn and Nathaniel Bell, ultimately determining that "there was enough substance there that we should have outside agency investigate the matter."*fn41 He contacted the county detectives, who assigned Detective Joseph DeAngelo to the case.*fn42 Major Frey testified that he mentioned Gene White's name to Detective DeAngelo and turned over to him the original letters from Plaintiff to White.*fn43 At some point during his investigation, Major Frey informed Defendant Algarin of the allegations against Plaintiff, but according to Major Frey, Defendant Algarin refused to be involved and told him to report it to Defendant Roth.*fn44

After being assigned to the case, Detective DeAngelo conducted an investigation, reviewing Plaintiff's employment file and speaking to Major Frey and CO Brighter.*fn45 During her interview with Detective DeAngelo, CO Brighter stated that she was having a conversation with Mascione and Preston Minnick when Mascione reported Plaintiff's touching of his buttocks.*fn46 Detective DeAngelo also had letters from Plaintiff to Gene White, as well as the letters she had written in the early 1990s to Glenn.*fn47 Detective DeAngelo interviewed several inmates, including Bell, Glenn, White, Mascione and John Marburger.*fn48 In his deposition, Detective DeAngelo stated that he "never spoke to Warden Algarin . . . [nor] any of the other prison officials concerning my investigation of this case," nor was he, at the time, aware of Plaintiff's pending sexual harassment suit.*fn49

Jasper DiSanto, another inmate in MCCF serving a sentence of twenty-nine and a half to fifty-nine and a half months, also gave a statement to Detective DeAngelo.*fn50 DiSanto had previously been on work release, but was removed after a July 12, 1999 drug violation.*fn51 He later applied for early parole, but it was denied on July 5, 2000 with the issue to be revisited in January of 2001.*fn52

On October 19, 2000, DiSanto gave his statement to Detective DeAngelo alleging that Plaintiff had sexually assaulted him.*fn53 Defendant Roth, as warden, recommended him for early parole on December 5, 2000.*fn54 DiSanto testified at Plaintiff's preliminary hearing on January 10, 2001 and was paroled just under two months later on March 7, 2001.*fn55 He served about thirty-nine months of his sentence.*fn56 The Director of Inmate Services at MCCF testified that when the warden makes recommendations on an inmate's work release, furlough or early parole, such a recommendation would carry weight with the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.*fn57 DiSanto had his probationary hearing on December 21, 2000.*fn58

Following Detective DeAngelo's investigation and his issuance of an Affidavit of Probable Cause, Plaintiff was charged on or around December 2000 with institutional sexual assault for alleged sexual activity with inmates of MCCF.*fn59 With DiSanto, Mascione testified at Plaintiff's preliminary hearing on January 10, 2001.*fn60 While he was on furlough eleven days later, Mascione got into a fight and was issued a citation.*fn61 He failed to report this violation and part of his punishment was a loss of good time earned.*fn62 Mascione sent Defendant Algarin letters on February 8 and February 9, 2001, referencing his testimony in Plaintiff's case and asking that Defendant Algarin intervene to allow him to keep his good time.*fn63 Defendant Algarin recommended that Mascione be given his good time back.*fn64 Preston Minnick also sent a letter to Defendant Algarin asking for help and writing that he had "put [his] neck on the line."*fn65

At Plaintiff's trial, three witnesses, all former inmates of MCCF who knew DiSanto from the prison barber shop, testified that he was lying.*fn66 Louie Ciccarelli testified that DiSanto told him that he had made up the allegations of sexual assault against Plaintiff because "they promised him immediate Work Release."*fn67 Although DiSanto did not explicitly explain, Ciccarelli believed ...


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