United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
ALGENON L. MARBLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Young, a Muslim inmate, alleges that he was forced to attend
a Christian prison ministry event at the Correctional
Reception Center (CRC) in Orient, Ohio. Mr. Young now brings
a claim against CRC prison officials under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging that Defendants violated the Free Exercise and
Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment. The matter is
before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment of
Defendants Rick Chuvalas, George Smith, Karrie Hupka, Matt
Church, and Nelson Emeaghara (ECF No. 28) as well as
Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Reply Brief.
(ECF No. 80). The Court heard oral argument from the parties
on Thursday, May 24, 2018. (ECF No. 82). For the reasons set
forth below, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Part II.A of Defendant's
Reply Brief and DENIES Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment.
Aaron Young is a follower of Islam. (ECF No. 72-4). During
the events at issue in this case, Mr. Young was incarcerated
at CRC. (Id.).
houses two types of incarcerated men: “reception
inmates” who stay at the prison while they are
processed and eventually moved to another institution and
“cadre inmates” for whom CRC serves as their
parent institution. (Id.; ECF No. 67-1). Typically,
reception inmates and cadre inmates reside in different
units, but Mr. Young participated in a program through which
cadre inmates were assigned to reception units to aid
reception inmates. (ECF No. 72-4). While housed in the
reception unit, Mr. Young retained all of his cadre
privileges. (Id.). Those privileges most saliently
included the option to participate in recreation and
programming with the cadre units and the option of spending
time in other residential units rather than accompanying his
reception unit to programming. (Id.).
2015, Bill Glass Ministries - a Christian organization with a
stated mission of proselytizing to imprisoned non-Christians
- held an event at CRC. (ECF No. 66 at 27-31). Mr. Young
first learned of the Bill Glass event when a correction
officer told him that morning that attendance would be
mandatory. (ECF No. 72-4). Mr. Young, noting that he was
Muslim and did not wish to attend a Christian event, sought
to either remain in his reception unit during the event or to
go to one of the neighboring reception units. (Id.).
Although cadre inmates were typically permitted to pursue
either of these options, Defendant George Smith-a Major at
CRC-told Mr. Young that he “did not care” that
Mr. Young was Muslim and that Warden Chuvalas had made the
event mandatory. (Id.). Major Smith ordered Mr.
Young to join the unit and threatened to send him to
segregation if he failed to comply. (Id.).
ensued after the Bill Glass Ministries event began is sharply
parties do not agree as to the content of the event. Mr.
Young recalls that “[t]he event felt like a church
service” and that the speakers at the event told the
inmates that if they “did not accept Jesus as [their]
Lord and Savior” that they were “going to
hell.” (Id.) Other inmates shared Mr.
Young's sense that the event conveyed a religious
message. (Clark Decl. (“Bill Glass people were on the
microphone telling how God changed their lives, and
encouraging everyone to accept Jesus as their personal Lord
and Savior”); O'Neil Decl. (“The Bill Glass
event felt like a church gathering.”)). Defendant
Deputy Warden Karrie Hupka was also at the event. (ECF No.
67-1). She recalled that representatives of Bill Glass
Ministries “juggled and told jokes” before one
speaker shared a story about himself, but she did not recall
that the speaker mentioned God or Jesus or quoted the Bible.
parties do not agree as to whether any of the inmates were
permitted to sit on the bleachers away from the event. Mr.
Young recalls that he was required to remain with the crowd
during the duration of the event and that he neither sat on
the bleachers nor was he ever given the option to do so. (ECF
No. 72-4). Major Smith, by contrast, recalls that a group of
inmates, including Mr. Young, began exercising during the
event. (ECF No. 67-2). He explained that he ordered the
inmates to return to the crowd and prohibited them from
exercising or otherwise “caus[ing] disruptions”
during the event, but that when the same group of inmates
eventually wandered to the bleachers about 75 yards away from
the event stage, he allowed them to remain there.
parties do not agree as to what happened after the outdoor
portion of the event concluded. Mr. Young declared that the
inmates were not allowed to return to their cells and that
they were required to remain while “Bill Glass members
went around conducting prayers.” (ECF No. 72-4). But
Deputy Warden Hupka believes that the outdoor portion of the
event concluded with a member of Bill Glass Ministries asking
the inmates if they “wanted to learn about
Christianity” and that those inmates who wished to do
so returned to the housing unit and voluntarily convened in a
room separate from the inmates who were not interested in
doing so. (ECF No. 67-1).
it is disputed whether security concerns necessitated the
mandatory attendance policy. Major Smith claims that safety
required “mandatory mass movement” at recreation
times and that any exceptions “must be arranged with
the housing unit staff in advance.” (ECF No. 67-2). But
Plaintiff notes that Warden Chuvalas did not make other
events - such as a February 2015 event for Black History
Month - mandatory for all inmates and that Defendants have
“proffered no reason why a similar format could not
have been provided for a visiting evangelical Christian
group.” (ECF No. 72 at 6).
Young filed a grievance with the Chief Inspector of
Institutional Services, an Office within the Ohio Department
of Rehabilitation and Correction that monitors policy
compliance at Ohio correctional facilities. In August 2015,
Chief Inspector Roger Wilson issued a decision on Mr.
Young's grievance, which read as follows:
In your complaint against Warden Chuvalas you allege you are
a Muslim and was [sic] subjected to mandatory participation
in the Bill Glass program which was a Christian event. Upon
review of your complaint and applicable policies and speaking
with the administration at CRC, I find that ORC policy
72-REG-01 states in part “no purely religious event
shall be made mandatory.[”] I further find the event
was mandatory for inmates. The administration at CRC is aware
of the rule and will make appropriate accommodations to
ensure policy compliance.
The grievance is granted.
(ECF No. 88-15).
April 4, 2016, Mr. Young filed a Second Amended Complaint
against CRC Warden Rick Chuvalas, CRC Major George Smith, CRC
Deputy Warden of Special Services Karrie Hupka, CRC
Lieutenant Matt Church, and CRC Chaplain Nelson Emeaghara
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 31). Mr. Young alleges
that the Defendants acted in contravention of the First
Amendment to the United States Constitution by violating the
Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause.
(Id.). Defendants now move for Summary Judgment on
those claims, ...