An inmate at a central Newfoundland prison is filing multiple lawsuits, including against corrections officers and a Gander oral surgeon, following an incident that reportedly happened at the surgeon’s office.
The Telegram has learned the man — an inmate at Bishops Falls Corrections Centre whose name is not being made public yet — alleges he was medically sedated at the oral surgeon’s office last month, when a corrections officer was video-recorded performing a dental procedure on him.
The video is believed to have been taken by another corrections officer, while two dental assistants were in the room at one point of the procedure.
The two corrections officers, who took the inmate to the oral surgeon’s office for an undisclosed procedure, were recently escorted out of the Bishop’s Falls facility by RCMP officers, a source told The Telegram earlier this week.
On Tuesday, both the RCMP and the Justice Department turned down requests for comment.
“My first reaction was shock and disbelief. With all due respect to my client. I thought it was incomprehensible and thought maybe he misapprehended what had happened.”
However, when contacted by The Telegram Wednesday, St. John’s lawyer Bob Buckingham confirmed he has been retained to represent the inmate and will file the lawsuit “fairly quickly” on his behalf.
“I haven’t heard of this happening in recent times in Newfoundland,” Buckingham said.
He said the lawsuits will claim battery, assault and breach of trust against the corrections officers; professional negligence and a breach of contract against the oral surgeon and the oral surgeon’s office; breach of trust by the corrections services and the provincial government, as well as vicarious liability against the provincial government, as it is alleged to have happened while corrections officers were on duty.
Buckingham said his client was unconscious at the time of the alleged incident, having been medically sedated, and had no knowledge of what happened when he left the dentist’s office a short time later. He said he learned about it and the video later from corrections administration.
“He understands one of the corrections officers took a video of this, which made the rounds within corrections services,” said Buckingham, adding that both the corrections administration and the RCMP are in possession of the video.
Buckingham said he was appalled to hear what the inmate says happened to him.
“My first reaction was shock and disbelief,” he said. “With all due respect to my client, I thought it was incomprehensible and thought maybe he misapprehended what had happened.
“It’s a very difficult set of circumstances to believe, given a professional involving a dentist and corrections officers who were there for his protection, and the inmate being under medically induced sedation.
“But types of egregious breaches of trust do happen in our province,” added Buckingham, who also represents the family of Jonathan Henoche, an inmate who was killed in segregation at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in November 2019, in lawsuits against the corrections officers, the prison and the provincial government.
He said the recent incident involving Bishop’s Falls facility corrections officers has had a huge impact on his client’s physical and mental well-being.
“He did suffer injuries and my client is under incredible stress and apprehension,” said Buckingham.
Buckingham said his client has been serving time at the prison for 82 days, but wouldn’t say for what crime.
“He fears for his safety on a daily basis, given what happened to him when he was under the care of two corrections officers, and wonders if something else could happen to him.
Buckingham said his client didn’t contact police, but that arrangements have been made for him to be interviewed by investigators soon.
When contacted by The Telegram Tuesday, RCMP spokesperson Glenda Power said, “I can confirm that the RCMP attended the grounds of the Bishops Falls Correctional Centre in order to advance an investigation. That investigation is ongoing and, therefore, we can provide no further information at this time.”
An official statement, received via email, from the provincial Justice Department said, “The safety of inmates and staff at all provincial correctional facilities is a top priority. However, we are unable to comment on your request.”
Rosie Mullaley reports on breaking news in St. John’s.