United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
M. Rose District Judge
AMENDED REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge
First Amended Complaint describes nightmarish crimes
perpetrated by Defendant Justin W. Sanderson, a former police
officer in the Village of Phillipsburg, Ohio. Plaintiffs Tina
Brickles and Kelsey Walker were victims of some of
Sanderson's crimesâwhich he committed while working on
duty as a Phillipsburg Police Officer. Defendant Mark Wysong
hired Sanderson as a Phillpsburg Police Officer. Wysong was,
at that time, Phillipsburg Police Chief.
August 2018, Sanderson was found guilty in state court of
rape, sexual battery, gross sexual imposition, kidnapping,
and civil-rights violations. See Doc. #s 9, 12. He
is presently an inmate at the Lorain Correctional Institution
serving a 43-year sentence. See Doc. #s 8, 13, 15.
present case, Plaintiffs-including Tina Brickles' husband
Roger Brickles- proceed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They
assert that Defendants Sanderson, Wysong, the Village of
Phillipsburg violated their rights under the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. They also bring
claims under Ohio law.
Village of Phillipsburg and Wysong presently seek dismissal
of Plaintiffs' First Amendment Complaint under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). They contend that the Amended
Complaint fails to raise a plausible claim against them.
Defendant Sanderson is not a party to Defendants Phillipsburg
and Wysong's Rule 12(b)(6) Motion.
Rule 12(b)(6), the factual allegations found in
Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint are accepted as true.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Doing
so discloses the following.
Sanderson's work history in law enforcement was riddled
with malfeasance from the start. He worked from 2008 to 2013
as a control-room operator at the Montgomery County Juvenile
Detention Center. During this time, “[he] was
disciplined and suspended for, among other things, accessing
pornographic web sites from a government computer while on
duty, allowing a male to enter the female housing unit in
violation of facility policies, and leaving his post on
multiple occasions for extended periods of
time.” (Doc. #15, ¶10).
March 2014, Sanderson enrolled in the Dayton Police Academy
as a recruit. He was fired for misconduct that included, in
part, asking a female recruit and another male recruit if
they were “making love” during a training
his termination as a Dayton Police recruit, he completed the
Ohio Peace Officer Basic Training Program in early September
2014. A month later, he was hired as a police officer for the
Grandview Medical Center.
December 2014, his two-month employment as a police officer
was interrupted when Grandview Medical Center suspended him,
pending an investigation of his misconduct. This included
violations of the hospital's sexual-harassment policy
such as photographing his erect penis next to a can of
hairspray and showing it to members of the hospital's
female nursing staff; contacting a known prostitute and
talking with her about having her perform oral sex on him for
twenty dollars; expressing his interest to his supervisors in
undercover-prostitute work; and, admitting to the
hospital's police department that he had spoken to
prostitutes before work, sat in front of drug houses, and
talked with people after they purchased drugs. The hospital
police department did not participate in undercover drug or
December 2014-after just shy of three months on the
job-Sanderson resigned his position as a hospital police
officer. He resigned in lieu of involuntary termination for
next law-enforcement job began in July 2015 when G4F Security
Solutions USA hired him as a security officer and assigned
him to work in the Dayton Metro Library. At this time, G4F
also employed Defendant Wysong. Wysong hired Sanderson to
work as a security officer. Before Wysong decided to hire
Sanderson, he knew about Sanderson's past misconduct by
way of a background check that revealed, in part, his
improper actions at the Juvenile Detention Center and
Grandview Medical Center. Wysong supervised Sanderson during
his year-long employment at ¶ 4F.
2016, Sanderson resigned his position with G4F. By this time,
Wysong was chief of the Phillipsburg Police Department and
the sole Phillipsburg police officer. In June 2016, Wysong
hired Sanderson as a Phillipsburg police officer.
apparently went along quietly until May 2017 when
Sanderson-while on duty as a Phillipsburg police
officer-stopped Plaintiff Walker as she was driving home.
Sanderson claimed that he thought Walker was driving while
intoxicated. He handcuffed her and placed her in the back of
his police cruiser but did not read Miranda rights to her,
did not search her, and did not tell her she was under
arrest. Then, rather than taking Walker to jail-Phillipsburg
does not have a separate police station or a jail-Sanderson
drove her to the Phillipsburg municipal building. The
building was locked and no one was inside. He unlocked the
building and entered with Walker.
implying to Walker that he was asking her for sex in exchange
for favorable treatment, Sanderson performed field sobriety
tests on her while she remained handcuffed. He told her that
she had failed the tests. During and after the tests, Walker
Walker remained handcuffed, Sanderson groped her and removed
her shorts and underwear. He then raped her while she was
still handcuffed. After this, he removed the handcuffs and
raped her again. “At no time did Walker consent to
Sanderson's actions. [She] feared for her life if
Sanderson came to believe that she would report his unlawful
behavior.” Id. at ¶34. After Sanderson
twice raped her, he told her “that he would not tell if
she did not.” Id. at ¶35.
also targeted and preyed upon Plaintiff Tina Brickles. It
began in June 2017 when she drove past a police car while on
her way home from a friend's house. Ten minutes after she
arrived home (around 11:10 p.m.), Sanderson appeared at the
door of her home. He was on duty and wearing a Phillipsburg
police department uniform. He was equipped with a police
radio, handcuffs, and his duty firearm. He asked her if she
knew her husband had a warrant for his arrest, and he told
her he had a warrant for her arrest. He did not show her any
warrant or other paperwork. He instead asked her to go to the
kitchen where the light was better. Once there, he asked her
to turn away, and he patted her down. He then pulled on the
belt loop of her shorts. Under the guise of patting her down,
he felt her breasts under her bra and pulled her bra away
from her body.
handcuffed Brickles, placed her in a police cruiser, and
drove to the Phillipsburg municipal building. The building
was locked, dark, and unoccupied. Once inside, Sanderson took
the handcuffs off Brickles. He then felt inside the pockets
of her shorts. He asked her if she was wearing underwear
while continuing to pull at her shorts.
told her that she had a warrant in Eaton. She sensibly
“told him to have Eaton come pick her up, because she
was not comfortable with the situation or with how Sanderson
was acting.” Id. at ¶53. Sanderson stood
in front of Brickles for a long time. “He then asked
her if there was some way they could clear this incident up,
or if she needed to go to jail. Brickles took this statement
as a request by Sanderson for some type of sexual activity in
exchange for not going to jail. She told him she was not that
kind of person, which she intended and Sanderson understood
as a rejection of his request.” Id. at
¶54. Sanderson told Brickles that he had been to jail
and asked her if she wanted to know why. She did not respond.
after additional threatening behavior, Sanderson handcuffed
Brickles. She started to cry. He then stood behind her and
put his hand on her neck, back, and cupped her breast. She
tried to move away but “Sanderson put his hand down the
front of her shorts and underwear and penetrated her vagina
with his fingers.” Id. at ¶61. She again
told him that she was not that type of person but there was
little she could do to resist because she was handcuffed and
alone with him in the Phillipsburg municipal building.
Sanderson then left her alone and went into an office. She
sat down and started to cry and pray.
returned and sat in a chair in front of Brickles. He stared
at her for fifteen minutes. She started to tell him things
because she thought he was going to hurt her or rape her. He
responded, in part, by telling her that he would be working
again the following weekend and would stop by her house if
she did not take care of the warrant. He eventually drove her
or so later Sanderson returned to Brickles' home at 11:30
p.m. She told him to leave and never return.
does all this have to do with Defendants Phillipsburg and
Wysong? Nothing causative they say; it was all
Sanderson's misconduct. This polemic underpins their
contention that Plaintiffs have not raised a plausible
constitutional claim against them.
argue otherwise. They contend that their Amended Complaint
raises plausible claims against Defendants Phillipsburg and
Wysong under several theories of municipal liability under 42
U.S.C. § 1983: (1) Inadequate screening of Sanderson
before hiring him as a police officer; (2) failure to train,
supervise, and discipline Sanderson; and (3) violations of
the Equal Protection Clause. (Doc. #24, PageID
Rule 12(b)(6) and Plausibility
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Hensley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609
(6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949).
This “does not require ‘detailed factual
allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting, in part, Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
plausibility standard is not akin to a probability
requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility
that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint
pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a
defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see Reilly v.
Vadlamudi, 680 F.3d 617, 622 (6th Cir. 2012).