Inmate Alleges Rape by Prison Officer, Indifference From Justice System


Handcuffed to pipes in the chief of security’s office, his pants yanked to his ankles, Maurice Mathie knew what was happening to him. He just didn’t want to believe it.

“I’m an inmate. He’s the man in the uniform. He’s not supposed to rape me,” Mathie said.

Mathie reported the alleged sodomy to everyone from prison security to the FBI, but local and federal investigators decided not to prosecute Sgt. Roy Fries, citing a lack of evidence.

Mathie sued Suffolk County and won more than $450,000 in civil damages. A federal judge said Fries had committed “an outrageous abuse of power and authority.”


Now Mathie spends his time investing that money from a cell in the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in New York’s Catskill Mountains. He expects to be paroled in 2009.

“Yes, I’ve got a lot of money,” he said. “I’d give it all up to have never been in this situation in the first place.”

When he was 21, Mathie and three others killed Paul Vincent Lamariana, 49. They clubbed him with a wrench, choked him with an electrical cord and, while he was still alive, stuffed him into a plastic bag.

“It was a terrible thing that got completely out of control,” said Mathie.

Mathie and his codefendants told police they killed Lamariana because he allegedly molested, harassed and threatened one of the suspects and her daughter. Police and prosecutors said they didn’t find evidence that the girl was being abused.

It was while he was awaiting trial in the Suffolk County Jail that Fries, chief of jail security, sodomized him, Mathies said.

Fries would not speak with the Associated Press.

During the civil trial, Fries testified that Mathie was in his office “probably much more than any inmate” but denied any sexual contact.


Mathie said Fries was his first friend in jail. “At first I trusted him. He was compassionate. Understanding,” said Mathie, whose prior criminal record consisted of four traffic violations.

Then, said Mathie, Fries began making sexual advances.

“He would wheel his chair in front of mine where I was sitting and put his hands on my thighs and start talking to me, rubbing my thighs, grabbing my hand to hold my hand, and with each visit it just kept progressing,” Mathie would later testify.

An internal investigation at the jail showed that Mathie, who was still awaiting trial, spent “seven times the time of any other prisoner” locked in Fries’ office.

In mid-March 1990, Mathie said Fries locked him into his office, as usual, then grabbed him from behind in a bear hug, handcuffed him to vertical pipes, undressed and rubbed lotion on both of them and penetrated Mathie from behind.

“He raped me, it seemed like, forever,” he said.

Back in his cell, Mathie sobbed. Then he broke everything he had--cassettes, tape recorder, shampoo bottles, bars of soap. He tried to slash his wrists.

He reported the crime to the FBI. The FBI investigated and found prison staff, inmates and psychologists confirming that Fries had been spending an inordinate amount of time locked in his office with Mathie.


The investigation found that Fries had been in trouble for having relations with young male prisoners before. A jail psychologist told investigators that Fries overstepped his rank “to acquire sexual gratification from homosexual inmates in the institution,” said the FBI report.

The Department of Justice said there wasn’t enough evidence to file charges, but prosecutors refused to discuss specifics.

Mathie’s case was investigated as a possible civil rights violation because the alleged attack occurred while he was in custody. Federal civil rights law permits prosecution when an “agent of government” deprives someone of civil rights “under color of law.”

Fries retired from the jail with a pension in 1995.

Here are brief descriptions of other civil rights claims and actions taken by federal prosecutors in recent years:

Declined to Prosecute

* Christopher Kinneer, 27, of Nelsonville, Ohio, died Dec. 31, 1994, after being arrested, hogtied and maced by Columbus, Ohio, police. Police said Kinneer had been arguing with his girlfriend. The Justice Department declined to file charges against the officers. The city of Columbus paid Kinneer’s parents $805,000 to settle a lawsuit.

* Craig Thomas, 29, of Wortham, Texas, died June 5, 1993, after a car in which he was riding was stopped by Corsicana police for an expired registration. Police said Thomas, who is black, ran from the car, fell in a ditch and struggled with two white officers when caught. His death was ruled accidental. A medical examiner said contributing factors included the method by which he was restrained and drugs and alcohol in his system. The Justice Department declined to prosecute. The city of Corsicana agreed to pay Thomas’ family $522,000 to settle a lawsuit.


* Aaron Williams, 35, of San Francisco, died June 4, 1995, after a struggle with 11 police officers who had gone to his home to arrest him for burglary. Witnesses said the officers beat Williams, pepper-sprayed him and hogtied him before throwing him face down into a police van. The Justice Department decided not to prosecute in March 1996. A year later, an officer at the center of the incident was fired for lying to authorities about federal lawsuits in his past.

* Jeanie Mentavlos and Kim Messer, among the first female cadets at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., said male students violated their rights. During their plebe year in 1996, they said their clothes were lit on fire and they were screamed at and forced to consume nauseating amounts of tea and other drinks. Male students, they said, told them to get out of the school, and eventually they did. The Justice Department investigated for 13 months, concluding that male cadets received the same type of abuse. In a memo closing the case, prosecutors termed it “highly questionable whether it would be a wise expenditure of resources to attempt federally to criminally prosecute and imprison these cadets.”


* Prince Georges County, Md., police officer Timothy Moran, 34, pleaded guilty on March 9, 1998, to beating a handcuffed man with a nightstick. Moran admitted that he violated federal civil rights statutes when he repeatedly struck Peter Peluso in May 1994. Moran was sentenced to five months in prison followed by five months of home detention.

* Eight Corcoran State Prison officers were indicted on criminal civil rights charges in California on Feb. 26, 1998, for allegedly pitting inmates in deadly gladiator-style fights for the guards’ amusement.