Platte County Jail Says Inmate’s $2 Million Sexual Harassment Claim Not Lawsuit-Worthy

After a Platte County jail inmate demanded $2 million in a civil rights complaint alleging a deputy touched his chest in a “sexual manner” and two more deputies cited him for reporting the incident, the jail asked the court Monday to dismiss the lawsuit for not rising to the applicable legal standards.

Clair McFarland

March 29, 20233 min read

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The Platte County Detention Center and three of its deputies have asked a federal court to dismiss a jail inmate’s lawsuit claims that a deputy touched his chest “in a sexual manner” and other deputies penalized him when he reported it.  

Johnny Otero has asked the court to award him $2 million of public money for alleged violations of his constitutional rights.  

Otero now is in prison at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institute in Torrington. He filed a civil rights complaint against the Platte County jail and its deputies in January, alleging that a deputy touched his chest twice in a “sexual manner” last June and drew on his neck with a pen.  

When Otero reported the incident, two other deputies “ticketed” him, Otero claims, meaning they cited him for false reporting.  

Backed by the Wyoming Attorney General’s office, the jail on Monday asked the U.S. District Court for Wyoming to dismiss Otero’s case, saying his terse complaint doesn’t show that he was harmed to the extent of a violation of rights and that he’s failed to demonstrate what made the deputy’s contact “sexual.”  

“Prison officials may not retaliate against prisoners for exercising their constitutional rights, including filing internal prison grievances,” says the jail’s Monday legal response to Otero’s complaint. “However, (to) make a prisoner’s claim of retaliation by a prison official plausible it must be supported by … specific facts about the adverse action … (and) specific facts showing why the particular official would be motivated to improperly harm the prisoner.” 

The jail’s response says that Otero failed to show why any deputy would want to retaliate against him, and failed to show that he was inconvenienced or harmed in any way by the citation.  

Similarly, when referencing the deputy’s alleged sexual touching of Otero’s chest and writing on his neck with a pen, the jail’s response says Otero doesn’t demonstrate actual harm.  

“There is no statement of what he drew on his neck or how the touch to his chest was ‘in a sexual manner,’” says the jail’s filing. “(Otero) fails to state a claim for relief and should be dismissed.”   

When he filed his complaint, Otero was in jail for felony stalking, attempting to elude law enforcement and interference with a peace officer, according to the Platte County Sheriff’s Office.  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter