Inmate files lawsuit against county jail

A Youngsville man currently in state prison after pleading guilty to raping a minor during Cornfest in Youngsville in 2015 is seeking $3.5 million in damages from alleged mistreatment in the Warren County Jail.

That’s one of three pending actions that Joseph G. Hensley has filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Hensley wrote to the Times Observer last week to, among other things, make us aware of these filings.

He alleged in a filing last year that that Warden Jon Collins, then deputy warden, “denied me the right to adequate medical treatment” and that Abby Wenzel “failed to comply with appointments for psychiatric treatment which lead (sic) to my trying to kill misled thirty times.”

Hensley further alleged that Collins “denied me getting my wisdom teeth pulled which caused me to have trouble eating also denied me eye care which caused me to have problems seeing and migrains (sic).:”

He also claimed that no law library access was provided and said that he filed a grievance and was “told the county wouldn’t pay for it.”

It’s not immediately clear what he alleges the county was unwilling to pay for.

In his filing, he said he is seeking “immediate release from custody so I can get this handled and compensation of $3.5 million dollars (sic).”

Attorneys representing Collins and Wenzel filed answers to the complaint in federal court last month.

The answer filed on behalf of Collins indicates that he “denies that any of (Hensley’s) rights were violated, denies that any federal laws were violated, and denies that any ‘healthcare’ laws were violated as alleged…”

“To the contrary, at all times relative to (Hensley’s) incarceration at the Warren County Prison, Mr. Hensley was provided adequate medical and mental health treatment, was provided access to the law library and was afforded rights and remedies he was entitled to under the United States Constitution, and applicable state and federal laws.”

The filing further details that there is a grievance procedure for inmates that Hensley never utilized, calls Hensley’s claims “patently frivolous” and claims that any “injuries, sufferings and/or damages” were caused by Hensley’s “pre-existing condition(s) and/or his own conduct, negligence, recklessness, disregard, criminal and other behavior…”

Wenzel’s response indicates that she, during the period covered in the suit, was a certified registered nurse practitioner and “denies” that any health care law was “violated.”

Her filing indicates that she “specifically denies” the accusation that she did not comply with Hensley’s psychiatric appointments and indicates that his claims are also “patently frivolous.”

In the last few days – in documents filed on September 21 – Hensley calls for a “prisoner release” due to mental health issues at SCI Fayette, claiming that state prison officials “cannot give him proper medication.” Also on Sept. 21, he filed a motion for “compensation for his mental and physical suffering” because he claims he has mental health treatment needs that can’t be met in prison.

The second pending matter is a habeus corpus hearing in which he claims that his defense attorney “forced me to plead guilty (to aggravated indecent assault) by telling me she would not represent me at trial; that I was on my own (sic).

He also claimed that he was never properly afforded his Miranda warnings and claimed that his “Constitutional rights were violated.”

Hensley claims ineffective assistance of counsel in several ways against multiple attorneys, including that his “alibies (sic) were not allowed to speak” and that his “alibies (sic) were never interviewed.”

He also claimed that he was “denied facing his accuser in court” and “slandered in media,” the motion states.

“I was forced into a plea deal, now my lawyer won’t talk to me,” he also claimed.

He asked for a new trial and “$1,000 per day starting on” Jan. 19, 2017, and claimed that his statements to police were unlawfully obtained.

“I was high and denied a lawyer,” he wrote. “I was also under the influence every day between September… 2015 until November 3, 2016. At which I was under the influence of mind altering substances during all court proceedings… All statements from me are illegal due to my mind being altered.”

In May, Assistant District Attorney Richard Hernan filed a motion to dismiss, citing that he has “failed to exhaust his claims in state court” and informing the federal court that a hearing post-conviction issues was pending.

In two subsequent filings – one crafted in July and another filed with the court on September 21 – Hensley calls for “IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL OF CHARGES and IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM CUSTODY on the grounds of my Constitutional rights being violated” relative to the assistance of his attorneys.

“It was stated to me by another employee of the courthouse that the District Attorney’s office of Warren Pennsylvania and The Judges (sic) Skerda and Hammond told them both not to file my appeals because they realized that they made a mistake and do not want to lose their job.”

In the September filing, he stated that “The District Attorney’s office and judges are paying my lawyers under the table not to file my appeals. As (sic) they don’t want to admit their wrong doing and release me. They want to keep me in prison. They are trying not to set themselves up for another lawsuit.”

He asked the federal court in an objection “to make them responsible and liable for their wrong doings.”

The third pending matter is directed at an official at SCI Fayette, who “is trying to send me to a block where I will get killed and not get the mental health treatment that I need…”

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