Prisoners’ Constitutional Rights to be Free from Sexual Abuse Protected by Second Circuit

August 11, 2015 in Civil Rights, Victories CRAWFORD V. CUOMO

The Second Circuits Ruling in Crawford v. Cuomo Today Clarifies that Any Sexual Abuse of a Prisoner is a Constitutional Violation

A terrific ruling today in Crawford v. Cuomo, a case brought by Perlmutter & McGuinness and the Law Office of Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, protects prisoners’ constitutional rights to be free from sexual abuse.  It should seem obvious, but some federal courts have missed the fact that intentional sexual touching of an inmate by a guard for the purpose of sexual gratification or humiliation violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  Numerous District Courts in the Second Circuit have held that minor or “de minimus”sexual abuse, does not rise to an Eight Amendment violation.  In February we argued that according to the law, and human decency, any sexual abuse of an inmate by a guard violates the constitution.

Today, the Second Circuit clarified in Crawford v. Cuomo: “A correctional officer’s intentional contact with an inmates genitalia or other intimate area, which serves no penological purpose and is undertaken with the intent to gratify the officer’s sexual desire or to humiliate the inmate, violates the Eighth Amendment.”

Read the full decision here

As a result of this decision, the plaintiffs, both former inmates now on parole, will be permitted to pursue their case in federal court against the officer that abused them and, according to the complaint, approximately twenty other inmates at Eastern Correctional Facility.

A special thanks to the New York Civil Liberties Union who assisted with a fantastic Amicus Brief.