(CN) – A West Virginia prisoner who had marbles surgically removed from his penis can continue his legal claim that prison officials forced him to undergo the procedure, the Fourth Circuit ruled.
Adrian King Jr. had tattoos drawn and marbles implanted in his penis in the fall of 2008. He and his fiancée, who is now deceased, had heard that the implants caused “intensification of sensitivity and euphoric climaxes.”
King was jailed in 2012. Ten months later, a corrections officer told him he needed to report for a medical examination. An inmate had reported seeing King and another inmate implanting marbles into their penises.
A nurse found that the marbles had not been implanted recently and were not infected. Still, King was found in violation of the jail’s policy directive against giving tattoos and piercings.
He was sentenced to 60 days of segregation and loss of privileges, during which time he was instructed to visit a medical center and have the marbles removed, if necessary.
The doctor did not find the procedure to be necessary.
When King returned to prison, the deputy warden told him, “Get comfortable, you stupid son of a bitch; you’ll be placed in administrative segregation until you do as I say and have those marbles removed.”
King stated that he agreed to surgery after prison officials threatened him with segregation for the rest of his sentence, along with the loss of parole eligibility.
After the surgery, King complained that his penis was numb and tingling, and that it hurt during bad weather. He also said he became depressed when he showered or urinated because the scarring reminded him of his dead fiancée.
In addition, King stated that staff members called him “Marble Man” and that their gossip had led to gay inmates approaching him.
King sued Commissioner Jim Rubenstein and several other prison officials for the violation of his Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The federal court in Martinsburg, W. Va. dismissed the lawsuit for failure to state a claim.
However, the Richmond, Va.-based Fourth Circuit reversed the decision, allowing King to continue his lawsuit.
Writing for the three-judge panel, U.S. Circuit Judge Roger Gregory said prisoners are entitled to privacy regarding their bodies under the Fourth Amendment.
He refuted the trial court’s opinion that King “precipitated” the surgery by having the marbles implanted in the first place.
“That King decided to have marbles inserted into his penis, however, is of no moment; the scope of the intrusion is not a subjective inquiry,” he wrote. “We find the scope of the intrusion objectively extreme.”
Gregory also stated that King can proceed with his Eighth Amendment claim of cruel and unusual punishment.
“King alleges more than segregation per se as his Eighth Amendment violation; instead, the confinement itself was used as a tool to coerce King into consenting to surgery, which in turn resulted in physical and mental injuries,” he wrote.
Gregory added that King raised a valid Fourteenth Amendment claim regarding equal protection.
“King alleged that there were at least two other inmates with implants in their penises,” he wrote. “These inmates were known to prison officials and were similarly ‘caught, charged and convicted,’ but neither was subjected to extended segregation or surgery.”
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