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Forsgren Fisher wins Eighth Circuit appeal on behalf of victim of alleged jail sexual assault

Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled in favor of Forsgren Fisher client Wilbert Glover, affirming the denial of summary judgment to a law enforcement officer.

Mr. Glover alleged in the district court that he was sexually assaulted by a corrections officer at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center during a strip search in violation of his constitutional right to be free from excessive force. The district court denied the officer summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity with respect to Mr. Glover’s excessive-force claim. The officer appealed and the Eighth Circuit appointed Forsgren Fisher partners Caitlinrose Fisher and Virginia McCalmont to represent Mr. Glover before the court. Rights Behind Bars, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the MacArthur Justice Center filed an amicus brief in support of Mr. Glover on behalf of a group of prominent former state prison officials.

In a unanimous published decision, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of summary judgment to the officer, meaning that Mr. Glover’s excessive-force claim will go to a jury. The Eighth Circuit reaffirmed that “it is clearly established that the sexual assault of an inmate by a guard violates an inmate’s constitutional rights.” Glover v. Paul, 78 F.4th 1019, 1021 (8th Cir. 2023) (internal quotation marks omitted). The officer’s alleged intentional and gratuitous touching of Mr. Glover’s private erogenous area exceeded the legitimate purpose of a strip search and violated clearly established federal law.

“Carceral sexual abuse is tragically common,” says Caitlinrose Fisher. “No inmate or detainee should fear sexual abuse at the hands of an individual charged with his or her protection and care. The Eighth Circuit’s decision sends a strong message that inappropriate sexual contact by a law enforcement officer—even if brief—is unconstitutional.”