United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Curtis, a state prisoner housed at the State Correctional
Institution --Graterford, is currently serving a life
sentence without the possibility of parole after being
convicted of murder in 1982. Mr. Curtis brought this action
against fourteen defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging violations of his constitutional rights by
retaliating against him for refusing to sign a Sex Offender
Treatment Plan form. Five of the defendants were dismissed
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Curtis vs. Wetzel, et al.,
14-cv-0786, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115149 (E.D. Pa. August 28,
2015). Two of the defendants were never served with the
complaint, and thus are also dismissed. The remaining seven
defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant
to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Mr.
Curtis has filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. For the
following reasons, I will grant the motion of the defendants,
and deny the motion of the plaintiff.
record reflects that on October 7, 1977, Mr. Curtis was found
guilty of aggravated indecent assault. See
Document #99-2 at 11. In 1982, he was convicted of first
degree murder and is currently serving a life sentence at
Graterford. In April 2007, after being found guilty of a
misconduct for engaging in sexual acts with others or sodomy,
Mr. Curtis was placed in disciplinary custody in the
restricted housing unit at Graterford. After completing his
stay in disciplinary custody, he remained in the restricted
housing unit in administrative custody until February 2012.
February 1, 2012, Mr. Curtis met with Defendants Jay Lane,
Francis Feilds, Gary Olinger,  T. Bolton,  and Gerard
Kelly when he was informed that if he signed a
tracking agreement he would be released from the restricted
housing unit and placed in the general prison population. Mr.
Curtis signed the agreement and on February 2, 2012, was
released to the general prison population.
days later, Mr. Curtis received a pass to report to an area
known as J-Treatment Area, where he was questioned by
Defendant Brannen about the reason Mr. Curtis was
incarcerated. During the review of Mr. Curtis' file, Ms.
Brannen saw that Mr. Curtis had been charged with aggravated
indecent assault and the disposition of the charge was
guilty. Ms. Brannen also learned that Mr. Curtis was found
guilty of violating the prison rules by engaging in sexual
acts with others or sodomy. Based upon this information, Ms.
Brannen made the assessment that Mr. Curtis was in need of
the high intensity sex offender program.
the meeting, Ms. Brannen informed Mr. Curtis that he was a
convicted sex offender and was being evaluated for placement
in the sex offender program. Mr. Curtis immediately responded
that he had never pleaded guilty or been convicted of a
sexual offense. Ms. Brannen informed Mr. Curtis that she
recommended him for the high intensity sex offender program
and that if he did not participate he would be returned to
the restricted housing unit.
March 20, 2012, Mr. Curtis was given a pass to report to the
treatment area to meet with Defendant
Birmingham. Ms. Birmingham directed Mr. Curtis to go
to a room that resembled a classroom, which contained about
twenty-five other inmates. Ms. Birmingham wrote
“SOP” [Sex Offender Program] on the board and
handed a confidentiality form to each one in the class to
sign including Mr. Curtis. By signing the form, an inmate
pledges that he would not do any further criminal acts. Mr.
Curtis signed the form but also wrote on the form,
“This is coercion. I was told that I'd be locked
down if I did not agree to participate.” He was
instructed that if he did not properly sign the form he would
be sent back to the restricted housing unit. Mr. Curtis
refused to sign the form and returned to the block.
March 23, 2012, Mr. Curtis met with Defendants Kelly, Bolton,
and Stewart. During the meeting, Mr. Kelly informed Mr.
Curtis that he needed to comply with the sex offender program
including completing the paper work properly or he would be
returned to the restricted housing unit.
March 29, 2012, Mr. Curtis was given another pass to the
J-Treatment area to meet with Ms. Birmingham. Mr. Curtis went
as directed and met with Ms. Birmingham who provided him with
a form that he believes acknowledges that he had committed a
criminal sexual act. Ms. Birmingham wanted Mr. Curtis to sign
the form, but he refused and returned to his cell. He was
then summoned to the unit manager's office where he met
Mr. Kelly, Mr. Regan, a Sergeant, and Mr. Whitfield. Ms.
Birmingham joined the meeting and asked Mr. Curtis several
questions. She asked Mr. Curtis again to sign the form which
indicated he was convicted of a sexual offense. He refused to
sign, left the meeting, and returned to his cell.
that day, Mr. Kelly issued a misconduct report to Mr. Curtis
for refusing to sign a document stating he had committed
criminal sexual acts. On March 30, 2012, Mr. Regan issued Mr.
Curtis an “Other's Report” stating
“Inmate is a danger to some other person in the
institution who cannot be protected by alternate
means.” Mr. Curtis was removed from the general prison
population and placed in the restricted housing unit in
administrative custody, where he remains today.
Mr. Curtis filed this action, Ms. Brannen learned that the
information the prison had received was incorrect, and that
Mr. Curtis did not have a conviction for aggravated indecent
assault. Thereafter, Mr. Curtis received notice that there
would be a hearing to determine if he needed the sex offender
program. The hearing took place on August 6, 2015, but Mr.
Curtis refused to attend. See Document #99-3 at 4-5,
8. On January 25, 2016, the hearing examiner issued her
decision and made several findings of fact and conclusions of
law. For example, the examiner found:
5. On March 29, 2007, following an investigation at
SCI-Graterford, [Mr. Curtis] received Misconduct Report No.
A514342, alleging that on March 3, 2007, [Mr. Curtis]
assaulted another inmate by pulling the other inmate off of
the top bunk, throwing the other inmate onto the bottom bunk
and holding the other inmate down, pulling down the other
inmate's pants and underwear, and inserting his penis
into the other inmate's rectum.
6. Based on the allegations in Misconduct Report No. A514342,
[Mr. Curtis] was charged within the Department with assault,
threatening another person, engaging in sexual acts or