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Lawsuits & Litigation

Oregon’s Coffee Creek Correctional Facility Faces Another Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

— April 27, 2017

Oregon’s Coffee Creek Correctional Facility is facing a new lawsuit from several of its inmates hardly a month after having settled the same matter with another former detainee.

The three inmates at the state’s only all-women’s prison claim they were sexually abused by a physician as well as two medical staffers. The doctor in question, Robert W. Snider, was central to the case settled in August.

Filed in U.S. District Court, the inmates are also trying to cast blame on facility medical administrators Dave Brown and Dr. Steve Shelton. The Oregon Live story covering the development didn’t elaborate on what role may have been played in the alleged abuse by persons other than Snider.

The suit is being filed by three women – one of whom has been released from Coffee Creek, and the other two of whom are currently detained. Each member of the trio maintains they were sexually abused and made to feel uncomfortable by Dr. Snider during routine and requested medical treatment.

Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon; image by M.O. Stevens (Own work), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon; image by M.O. Stevens (Own work), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

One woman says she asked Snider to perform a consultation for a gynecological problem. He asked her to “disrobe” before exposing the inmate’s genitals and then caressing her leg.

“His conduct creeped her out and she felt sexually abused,” Oregon Live writer Noelle Crombie quotes the suit as saying.

Crombie highlights two other incidents from the brief.

In the second, a woman says Snider “forcibly” exposed her genitals and pinched her nipple, despite objections from the victim.

Another claims the physician “massaged her shoulders, her breasts and buttocks over the course of six to 12 visits last year related to anemia and asthma.”

Each of the incidents is said to have taken place in 2016.

The recently successful lawsuit, which awarded a payout of $175,000, led to a series of strange and disturbing revelations about Dr. Snider. Foremost among them was that the physician was charged with 34 counts of “professional misconduct” by a New York State medical board; the majority of the charges were in relation to Snider prescribing misrepresented treatments. After moving to Oregon, Snider was issued a “corrective action agreement” in 2009.

Leonard Berman, who represented plaintiffs in the last lawsuit, said, “Inmates are low on the totem pole. They don’t always complain, they don’t always know misconduct is happening.

“My sense is that more bad news is happening at Coffee Creek; it’s just not getting reported,” he said.

If the latest lawsuit has merit and is any indication, abuse by Snider was ongoing until he was dismissed from the facility in 2016.

However, Snider’s dismissal was not a termination. While he no longer is posted at Coffee Creek, he still serves as a consultant and assists in procedures and consultations via video links.


State pays former inmate $175,000 settlement in abuse claim

Suit alleges assault by doctor at Coffee Creek

Two women accuse Coffee Creek prison doctor of sexual assault

Women inmates file second suit against state prison doctor

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