United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MICHELE L. RAFFERTY, et al., Plaintiffs,
TRUMBULL COUNTY, OHIO, et al., Defendants.
ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NOS. 99, 103, 112, 113, &
Y. Pearson United States District Judge.
before the Court are two motions for summary judgment: (1) a
motion from Defendant Charles Drennen (ECF No. 103), and (2)
a motion from Defendants Trumbull County, Sheriff Thomas
Altiere, and Lieutenant Eric Shay (ECF No. 99).
Plaintiffs Michele Rafferty and Katie Sherman have responded.
ECF Nos. 105 & 108. Defendants have filed replies. ECF
Nos. 110 & 111. For the reasons that follow, the Court
grants in part and denies in part Defendant Drennen's
Motion for Summary Judgment and grants the Trumbull County
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on
Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint.
Allegations of Sexual Abuse
Michele Rafferty and Katie Sherman, are two former inmates at
the Trumbull County Jail. For a time, Plaintiffs resided in
the same pod in the jail, and they allege that Defendant
Charles Drennen, a corrections officer during their time at
the Trumbull County Jail, "engaged in a pattern of
sexual misconduct with female inmates." ECF No. 42 at
PageID #: 225. While the amended complaint contains
allegations that Drennen conducted inappropriate strip
searches of Plaintiffs and would himself engage in
masturbation (id.), the deposition testimony of
Plaintiffs does not go so far. Instead, both Rafferty and
Sherman testified that they never witnessed Drennen
masturbate. ECF No. 102 at PageID #: 736 & ECF No. 101 at
PageID #: 648. Additionally, both testified that Drennen
never touched them inappropriately. ECF No. 102 at PageID #:
707 & ECF No. 101 at PageID #: 649. Rather, they both
testified that while they were in their pod and Drennen was
performing rounds during the midnight shift, Sherman exposed
her breasts on three or four occasions and removed her shorts
and masturbated while covered by a blanket on one or two
occasions. ECF No. 101 at PageID #: 611 & ECF No. 102 at
PageID #: 705. Sherman testified that she engaged in these
actions because Drennen asked her to do so. ECF No. 102 at
PageID#: 705. Sherman also testified that while Drennen never
threatened her, she never refused to remove her clothing
because she found Drennen intimidating. Id. at
PageID #: 716. Rafferty testified that while she never heard
Drennen threaten Sherman, causing her to expose herself under
threat of discipline, she heard Drennen ask Sherman to expose
herself or write him notes that would contain flirtatious and
sexual content. ECF No. 101 at PageID #: 652.
Rafferty testified that nobody ever ordered her to watch
Sherman expose herself, but the two had bunks right next to
each other, so there "wasn't any way not to be a
part of what was going on." Id. Drennen, on the
other hand, testified that Sherman exposed her breasts to him
on one occasion, but he chose not to report it, because of
the potential for it to put him in "a bad light"
and jeopardize his chances of receiving an assignment to work
outside the jail 'on the road.' ECF No. 104-1 at
PageID #: 777. Drennen also testified that he was aware that
Sherman "liked [him], but [he] never, never gave that
back." Id. at 782.
Rafferty's Confrontation with Drennen
testified that, after Sherman was released from Trumbull
County Jail, she and another inmate, Tania Cordwell,
confronted Drennen about his behavior with Sherman and
requested that he not engage in such behavior with other
young girls that came into the jail. ECF No. 101 at 659-60.
Rafferty testified that more inmates in her pod had intended
to confront Drennen with her but, on the night they planned
to do so, all other inmates besides Cordwell had already
fallen asleep by the time Drennen had made his way to their
pod. Id. Rafferty testified that, upon confronting
Drennen, Drennen threatened her, demanding that she drop the
issue or else he would make the rest of her stay
uncomfortable, because he had already faced investigation for
similar issues in the past. Id. at 595-96. Rafferty
testified that she took Drennen's response as a direct
threat and that she had concerns about reporting the issue.
decided to report Raffety's actions. ECF No. 104-1 at
PageID #: 780. Drennen testified that Rafferty and another
inmate-he thought it was an inmate named
"Smerdell"-blackmailed him, threatening to expose a
purported relationship between Drennen and Sherman unless he
gave them cigarettes, a lighter, and razors. Id.
Drennen also testified that he reported this incident to the
acting assistant warden after consulting with two co-workers.
Id. at 781.
learning of the incident, Trumbull County conducted an
investigation led by Major Stewart. Id. at PageID #:
783. The investigation included an interview of Drennen, and
Drennen later testified that he told two lies during that
interview: (1) he concealed that he and his wife were having
marital problems related to financial issues and (2) he
denied that Sherman had exposed her breasts to him.
Id. Drennen was asked to take a polygraph test after
the interview, but resigned before the polygraph was
Stewart also interviewed Sherman. ECF No. 102 at PageID #:
721-22. Sherman testified that, during that interview, she
lied to Major Stewart when she denied the allegations
regarding exposing herself to Drennen at Drennen's
request. Id. at PageID #: 723-24. Sherman testified
that she lied because she did not want to relive the
experience and it was awkward to have the discussion with a
man her father's age. Id. at PageID #: 724-25.
deposed, Rafferty testified that, when Defendant Eric Shay
interviewed her as part of the investigation, she reported
Drennen's threat to her as well as Defendant's
Drennen's "inappropriate ways". ECF No. 101 at
PageID #: 661-63. Rafferty also testified that the Trumbull
County Jail had a kite system in place to report complaints.
ECF No. 101 at PageID #: 531. Kites were three sheet-forms,
and once an inmate completed the form, all three sheets would
go to the administration, but the inmate would eventually get
a copy. Id. Rafferty testified that she never used a
kite to complain about Drennen, because she was afraid of two
possible outcomes: (1) that the officer from whom she
requested the form would refuse to give her one or (2) that
requesting the kite would create backlash. Id. at
532-33. Rafferty further testified that officers would
sometimes deny inmates a kite because the officer did not
want to be linked to the complaint, as the officer's name
would appear on the form. Id. at 533.
similarly testified that she never filed a complaint against
Drennen, though she did ask Officer Nobbs for a kite form.
ECF No. 102 at PageID #: 700. Sherman also testified that
Officer Nobbs told her that she would speak with Sherman
about the kite form, but never did so, so Sherman dropped the
testified that after Drennen reported the purported
blackmail, she was denied toiletries, cleaning products, and
feminine products from time-to-time. ECF No. 101 at PageID #:
601-02. She testified that she tried to report these
incidents, but none of the corrections officers from whom she
requested a kite gave her one, though she could not recall
the names of which officers she asked or the exact number of
officers from whom she requested a kite. Id. at
PageID #: 601-602.
have brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, alleging Eighth
and Fourth Amendment violations by Defendant Drennen, a
Monell claim against the Trumbull County Defendants,
and various state law claims against the Trumbull County
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriately granted when the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure of materials on file, and any
affidavits show “that there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also
Johnson v. Karnes, 398 F.3d 868, 873 (6th Cir. 2005).
The moving party is not required to file affidavits or other
similar materials negating a claim on which its opponent
bears the burden of proof, so long as the movant relies upon
the absence of the essential element in the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986). The moving party must “show that the non-moving
party has failed to establish an essential element of his
case upon which he would bear the ultimate burden of proof at
trial.” Guarino v. Brookfield Twp. Trustees,
980 F.2d 399, 403 (6th Cir. 1992).
the movant makes a properly supported motion, the burden
shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate the existence
of material facts in dispute. An opposing party may not
simply rely on its pleadings; rather, it must “produce
evidence that results in a conflict of material fact to be
resolved by a jury.” Cox v. Ky. Dep't of
Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 150 (6th Cir. 1995). A fact is
“material” only if its resolution will affect the
outcome of the lawsuit. In determining whether a factual
issue is “genuine, ” the court must evaluate
whether the evidence could persuade a reasonable factfinder
that the non-moving party is entitled to a verdict.
defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party
must “show that there is doubt as to the material facts
and that the record, taken as a whole, does not lead to a
judgment for the movant.” Guarino, 980 F.2d at
403. In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court
must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party when deciding whether a genuine issue of
material fact exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986);
Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co.,398 U.S. 144
(1970). The existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in
support of the ...