A man who was injured by prison guards will now be compensated by the state of Ohio – to the tune of $17.5 million.
Seth Fletcher, 21, was in prison for pandering sexually-oriented material involving minors. While his lawyer said the offense was a videotape made with the consent of his girlfriend, who was a few years younger than Fletcher, who was then 18, it wasn’t a strong defense and Fletcher was convicted and hauled off to Chillicothe Correctional Institution, reported the Columbus Dispatch.
On April 2nd, 2020, Fletcher was reportedly knocked to the ground and told guards he couldn’t move or feel his legs. Prison guards, however, weren’t having it and didn’t take his complaints seriously. According to the Ohio Highway Patrol report, prison guards then allegedly knocked him around and dropped him multiple times, exacerbating his spinal injury. Later, when he was unable to get himself up in order to drink water, the report said guards poured water into his mouth and up his nose.
One of the guards, Garret Osbon, bragged about the incident in text messages recovered by the report and released by Fletcher’s attorney after he obtained them in the course of the lawsuit. The texts depict Osbon’s amusement after Fletcher was taken to Ohio State Medical Center:
“the dude I broke his nose is now paralyzed with a broken neck, and they say his face looks like he had been dropped and dragged through concrete, LMAO”
“It feels good to know that I played a small part in paralyzing a cho, LMAO,” another one reads.
The”cho” in Osbon’s texts is a reference to prison slang. “Cho” is short for “cho mo,” which is itself short for child molester. It has been a known fact that those in prison for sexual offenses involving a minor are routinely treated much worse by other inmates and prison staff, something confirmed by Osbon’s texts.
In response, Fletcher filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against several dozen Ohio prison security and nursing staff members on April 15th, 2020. Fletcher will receive $17.5 million from the state of Ohio to settle the lawsuit. There was no comment by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, except to say that details were still being finalized.
About a year after Fletcher’s initial injury, the state fired three people and gave a one-day working suspension to two staff members involved in the incident. Six others resigned after the incident, and one lieutenant opted for medical retirement, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Fletcher himself is now a quadriplegic and will spend the rest of his life in his wheelchair, the newspaper reported. He has since reportedly been released back to his mother, April Jacobsen, who complained that she needed the money to remodel her house in order to make it wheelchair accessible, as well as feeding and caring for her son for the rest of his life.
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