Man sues state, officers and warden of Northeast Correctional Complex

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff

A Mountain City man has filed a $9 million lawsuit against the warden at Northeast Correctional Complex and four other correctional officers for unlawful harassment and assault.
   The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court by Alfred Roberts against Warden Howard Carlton, officers David Black, Eric Cunningham, Carl Hatley and Roger Bailey and the state of Tennessee.
   The complaint alleges Roberts was "unlawfully harassed and assaulted the plaintiff based upon the officers' belief that the plaintiff is a homosexual or in an attempt to embarrass or defame plaintiff by alleging that he is a homosexual."
   The plaintiff's rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment were reportedly violated by the harassment.
   Roberts claims that as the result of a work-related injury in 2001, he suffered broken bones and now walks with a limp. Because of his hampered physical ability, he was moved to the central control desk for light duty in December 2001.
   The complaint reads, "In January 2002, Defendants David Black, Carl Hatley, Eric Cunningham, and Roger Bailey began to viciously and maliciously harass the plaintiff, falsely accusing him of being a homosexual.
   "Defendants verbally harassed plaintiff, calling him rude, offensive, vulgar, and inappropriate names, and defendants started a rumor that the Plaintiff was planning to undergo a sex change operation."
   The plaintiff also claims the defendants unlawfully changed his Internet account to a vulgar name.
   The complaint also alleges that Roberts reported the acts to his supervisors and to Warden Carlton, but his claims were not taken seriously.
   On July 29, 2003, Roberts became physically ill and saw Dr. Floyd Barker who informed him to eliminate stress because his heart rate was high.
   "Due to the plaintiff's severe emotional distress, he has not returned to work since this incident, and does not feel that he can return without further harassment and ridicule. He is currently on unpaid medical leave," the complaint reads.
   The plaintiff is seeking $9 million in compensatory and punitive damages from the defendants.