The ex-Coventry volunteer fire chief who’s serving a 10-year sentence for having a sexual relationship with a teenaged junior firefighter has filed a lawsuit accusing the staff at the Bridgeport Correctional Center of acting with “deliberate indifference” when they did nothing as another detainee regularly assaulted him.
Joseph Carilli, 56, filed the lawsuit in New Britain Superior Court in February against 14 employees of the state Department of Correction.
In his two-page handwritten complaint, Carilli wrote that in January and February of 2014 when he was held in pretrial detention at the Bridgeport Correctional Center unable to post bond in the sexual assault case another detainee regularly assaulted him.
In the lawsuit, Carilli is seeking monetary relief in the form of $100,000 from each defendant, the retraining of the defendants “to prevent repeated assaults from occurring,” and a written apology from them.
At the time the lawsuit was filed Carilli had already served 19 months of his 10-year sentence and was incarcerated at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown. He has since been transferred to the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers, and it was there that the Journal Inquirer met with him about his lawsuit.
On a recent afternoon Carilli was led by a correctional officer into the visitors’ room at Osborn to meet with a reporter. He was dressed in a beige-colored prison uniform with a white T-shirt underneath, the ensemble seeming a little loose fitting but still holding a bit to his husky frame.
His complaint against certain staff at the Bridgeport Correctional Center is that while he was supposed to be in protective custody while in pretrial detention another detainee assaulted him multiple times in early 2014.
Carilli said the detainee wanted to get transferred out of the Bridgeport Correctional Center and knew that if he assaulted someone, he would eventually succeed.
Carilli said he doesn’t know why the detainee chose him to attack, and he thought it was weird because up until then they had been acquaintances who played dominoes and cards together during recreation time.
“He started smacking me in the back of the head,” Carilli said. “It got worse on (Jan. 22, 2014). He started punching me in the chest and the back of the head.”
Carrilli said that since his sexual assault case was considered a high-profile crime due to his position as fire chief in Coventry and the amount of press it received, he was placed in protective custody at Bridgeport until his court case was disposed of, which didn’t happen until July 2014.
Though he was in protective custody, he said it didn’t stop the correctional officers from ignoring the abuse he was receiving.
Carilli said he had been making complaints to correctional officers first about being assaulted, but they laughed him off.
He said he then worked his way up the chain of command, complaining to prison counselors, lieutenants, captains, and then to the deputy warden.
He said he wrote an official letter of complaint to Deputy Warden Kimberly Jones on Jan. 22.
“She didn’t get back to me,” he said.
He wrote to her again after he was attacked by the same detainee on Jan. 27, and again got no response.
Then on Jan. 29, Carilli said the detainee sat down across from him and jabbed two fingers into his left eye. He said this was the first time correctional officers responded to an incident and the first time he was taken to the medical office for treatment after an assault.
He said he was told he’d get an appointment to see an eye doctor, although the actual appointment didn’t happen for about five months.
“I didn’t see an eye doctor until July,” he said.
He said his vision is still impaired by the attack and he has a permanent black ring in the field of vision of his left eye.
The detainee was put into seclusion for seven days as punishment, he said.
But as soon as the detainee got out, he attacked Carilli again, he said. He said the man threw a pot of boiling water at him, causing second-degree burns on his right shoulder.
It wasn’t until after this incident, Carilli said, that the detainee was transferred to another facility.
Carilli said that Bridgeport Correctional Center has video evidence of some of the attacks he suffered in January and February 2014.
He also said Jones admitted she had received his initial letter of complaint about being attacked on the same day he submitted it. He said the detainee should have been transferred out of the facility once Jones found out what was going on.
Carilli said he believes the correctional officers didn’t initially do anything about the attacks because the detainee was from Bridgeport and was friends with many of the staff members.
When asked about the lawsuit and Carilli’s claims, Andrius Banevicius, a spokesman for the Correction Department, said the department does not comment on pending lawsuits.
Federal lawsuit planned
Carilli admitted the odds of winning his lawsuit against the Bridgeport Correctional Center staff “are near zero.”
Still, he’s not giving up and plans to file a federal lawsuit as well.
Although Carilli is acting as his own lawyer in the lawsuit he’s already filed, he is receiving assistance from the Groton law firm of Bansley, Anthony, and Burdo through the Inmates’ Legal Assistance Program, he said. In the program, lawyers visit prisons to offer legal advice to inmates in civil matters but don’t represent them in court.
Carilli said he’s only allowed two legal calls a month and doesn’t want to lose a month of legal advice trying to track down court representation, hence he is representing himself.
Carilli said he’s up for parole next year if he stays out of trouble and hopes the state Board of Pardons and Paroles will rule in his favor.
According to the board, Carilli could be paroled as early as Oct. 27, 2017, following hearings that could be scheduled as early as March of that year.
“I have seven children,” said Carilli, who got divorced last September while serving his sentence. “I hope to re-engage with them.”
He said his oldest two children, boys, live in North Carolina and he doesn’t get to see them.
He said his next three oldest, all daughters visit him frequently, but his youngest two, a girl and a boy, are still too young to have any lengthy visitations at the prison.
Life beyond prison
He said that even though, as part of his sentence, he will be a lifelong registered sex offender, he plans to try to get a part-time job when he’s released from prison, maybe as a truck driver.
But if he can’t get a job, his Social Security will be reactivated and he’ll be able to live off of that, he said.
“I still have friends out there. I did a lot of things for a lot of people,” he said referring to his time as fire chief.
He had served with the Coventry Volunteer Fire Association for 37 years, the last six as fire chief before resigning in September 2012.
“I’m truly sorry for what happened,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about it since I’ve been incarcerated.”
Carilli was convicted in July 2014 for having a sexual relationship with a teenaged member of the Coventry Volunteer Fire Association’s Junior Firefighters, a group of 14- to 17-year-olds who participate in training and emergency responses with the firefighters.
The relationship started when the girl was 15 and ended when she was 17, resulting in an abortion that Carilli paid for.
Carilli was arrested in the case in February 2013, but continued to contact the teenager while behind bars, writing her letters and telling her that she ruined his family life while urging her to lie about their relationship, a prosecutor said.
He accepted a plea bargain in the case in March 2014 and pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to a minor, tampering with a witness and related attempt, and violating a protective order and related attempt.
On July 17, 2015, Vernon Superior Court Judge Jorge Simon gave Carilli a 10-year prison term and 10 years of probation.
The judge ordered that while on probation, Carilli must have no contact with the victim or her family, possess no guns or ammunition, have no unsupervised contact with people under the age of 18, undergo sex-offender evaluation and substance-abuse treatment, register as a sex offender for life, not be in a position of authority, undergo random urinalysis, and consume no drugs or alcohol. ..Source.. by Tim Leininger