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Baptiste v. New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

March 13, 2017

Stephen C. Baptiste
v.
New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster et al.[1]

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Andrea K. Johnstone United States Magistrate Judge.

         Stephen C. Baptiste, an inmate at the New Hampshire State Prison (“NHSP”), has filed a complaint (doc. no. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants, acting in their individual and official capacities, have violated his Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Baptiste's complaint is before the court for preliminary review, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a); LR 4.3(d)(1), and for consideration of the request for preliminary injunctive relief in the complaint.

         Background

         In his complaint, Baptiste alleges that on December 18, 2014, he attended a Christmas holiday event in the NHSP gym, which was attended by approved inmates and their families. After the event ended, and the visiting family members left, the other attendees and approximately ten corrections officers remained in the gym.

         A corrections officer, identified by Baptiste as John Doe #2, directed the inmates to submit to a strip search in the gym, in front of all of the other inmates present, corrections officers Baptiste identifies as John Does #2-#11, supervisory corrections officers Maj. Jon Fouts, Lt. Ernie Orlando, and Sgt. Foncier, [2] and a female corrections officer, Kelly Jardine, without the benefit of privacy barriers. Baptiste's strip search involved removing his clothing, manipulating his genitals, and squatting and coughing. Baptiste further asserts that the strip search was conducted in view of a video surveillance camera.

         After the incident, Baptiste filed administrative grievances with Fouts, NHSP Warden Richard Gerry, and New Hampshire Department of Corrections (“DOC”) Commissioner William Wrenn. Baptiste's grievance to Wrenn was answered by DOC Director of Security and Training Christopher Kench. All of the grievances were denied.

         Baptiste also filed a complaint with Jean Carrol, the Director of Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) standards at the DOC, alleging that the strip search was sexual misconduct, which Baptiste describes as “staff-on-inmates voyeurism, ” that violated PREA. Baptiste states that Carrol spoke with Baptiste, but failed to conduct an appropriate investigation or report her findings to appropriate authorities.

         Additionally, Baptiste wrote a letter to New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster, asking that the strip search incident be investigated as a crime. Foster's office referred the matter to the DOC Director of Investigations Colon Forbes, and otherwise declined to conduct an investigation. Baptiste alleges that neither Foster nor Forbes conducted an adequate criminal investigation of the incident.

         Discussion

         I. Preliminary Review

         A. Standard

         In determining whether a pro se pleading states a claim, the court construes the pleading liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Disregarding any legal conclusions, the court considers whether the factual content in the pleading and inferences reasonably drawn therefrom, taken as true, state a claim to relief. Hernandez-Cuevas v. Taylor, 723 F.3d 91, 102-03 (1st Cir. 2013) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).

         B. Strip Search Claims

         1. Eighth ...


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