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9.26A Particular Rights—Eighth Amendment—Convicted Prisoner's Claim of Sexual Assault

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9.26A Particular Rights—Eighth Amendment—Convicted
Prisoner's Claim of Sexual Assault 

            As previously explained, [name of applicable plaintiff] has the burden of proving that the act[s] of [name of applicable defendant] deprived the plaintiff of particular rights under the United States Constitution.  In this case, the plaintiff alleges the defendant deprived [him] [her] of [his] [her] rights under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution when [insert factual basis of the plaintiff’s claim].  

            Under the Eighth Amendment, a convicted prisoner has the right to be free from “cruel and unusual punishments.”  To prove the defendant deprived [name of applicable plaintiff] of this Eighth Amendment right, the plaintiff must establish the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:   

1.         [Name of applicable defendant] acted under color of law;   

2.         [Name of applicable defendant] acted without penological justification; and  

3.         [Name of applicable defendant] [touched the prisoner in a sexual manner] [engaged in sexual conduct for the defendant’s own sexual gratification] [acted for the purpose of humiliating, degrading, or demeaning the prisoner].  


            “We now hold that a prisoner presents a viable Eighth Amendment claim where he or she proves that a prison staff member, acting under color of law and without legitimate penological justification, touched the prisoner in a sexual manner or otherwise engaged in sexual conduct for the staff member’s own sexual gratification, or for the purpose of humiliating, degrading, or demeaning the prisoner.”  Bearchild v. Cobban, 947 F.3d 1130, 1144 (9th Cir. 2020).   

            “Sexual harassment or abuse of an inmate by a corrections officer is a violation of the Eighth Amendment” as “sexual contact between a prisoner and a prison guard serves no legitimate role . . . [and] is simply not ‘part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society.’ Because there is no ‘legitimate penological purpose’ served by sexual assault, the subjective component of ‘malicious and sadistic intent’ is presumed if an inmate can demonstrate that a sexual assault occurred (citations omitted).”  Wood v. Beauclair, 692 F.3d 1041 at 1046, 1050 (9th Cir. 2012).  Further, “an inmate need not prove that an injury resulted from sexual assault in order to maintain an excessive force claim under the Eighth Amendment.”  Schwenk v. Hartford, 204 F.3d 1187, 1196 (9th Cir. 2000).  

Added May 2020