Prison 'sex slave' case tossed by Michigan judge

LANSING - A Jackson County judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a former state prisoner who fathered a child with a prison counselor and claimed he was kept at Parnall Correctional Facility as her “sex slave.”

The case was first reported by the Free Press in November.

Judge Richard LaFlamme ruled that former inmate Steve Moerman of Grand Rapids didn’t comply with several technical requirements before filing the lawsuit, including pursuing his claims through the prison administrative process.

Okemos attorney Lauren Elster, who represented Susan Lee Clingerman, a former prison counselor at Parnall Correctional Facility near Jackson, said in a Wednesday news release that the Feb. 10 ruling is a victory for her client and other defendants in the case, which included the Michigan Department of Corrections and Gov. Rick Snyder.

Moerman, of Grand Rapids, alleged  in a September lawsuit that Clingerman used him as "a virtual sex slave, demanding sexual gratification at her whim," while he was imprisoned at Parnall Correctional Facility on a drug charge in 2014 and receiving counseling for mental illness. Moerman also alleged prison officials knew or should have known what was happening because another prison counselor acted as a lookout for Clingerman.

Clingerman denied the allegations in an interview with the Free Press and said Moerman, violated his parole by continuing to contact her after his release and was simply trying to make money by naming her and state officials as defendants.

Clingerman said she and Moerman have "shared responsibility" for carrying on a sexual relationship in 2014 when she worked for the Michigan Department of Corrections and he was an inmate, though she recognizes that in the eyes of the law it was impossible for Moerman to consent to sex with a prison employee.

"If we were two people working in the workforce and we had this type of relationship, you wouldn't think twice," she said.

She also said it wasn't her choice — but the Friend of the Court — that caused her to sue Moerman for paternity and child support.

Sterlin Measdieu, an attorney representing Moerman, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4

© 2017 Detroit Free Press


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