United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge
Kevin McCullough, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed an
amended complaint (ECF 7) that is nearly identical to his
earlier complaint but names ten defendants instead of seven.
“A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed,
and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be
held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
Nevertheless, the court must review prisoner complaints
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
McCullough is the only source of information at this point,
and here is what he says happened. Mr. McCullough was taking
college classes through the Holy Cross, University of Notre
Dame, Westville Education Initiative, while he was housed at
the Westville Correctional Center. He was on course to graduate
with an associate's degree in liberal studies on December
would have enabled him to be released from prison one year
earlier. He planned to then work toward a bachelor's
degree, which would have resulted in a further reduction in
his sentence. But Mr. McCullough experienced a status change
at the prison, was banned from using the Jpay system to send
and receive messages, and wasn't awarded a degree. He has
sued Holy Cross College, Jamie Bush (a Holy Cross College
Volunteer), Alicia Serocynski, Ph.D. (Director of the
Westville Education Initiative), David T. Tyson (President of
Holy Cross College), Justin Watson, Ph.D. (Provost of Holy
Cross College), the University of Notre Dame, Hiroko Harrison
(Registrar of Holy Cross College), Kenneth Watts (GSC Complex
Director at Westville Correctional Facility), Warden Mark
Sevier, and John Hicks (an administrative assistant at
Westville Correctional Facility). He asks that his Jpay
privileges be restored, that an associate's degree be
awarded, that he be readmitted to the program so he can
pursue his bachelor's degree, and that he be awarded
McCullough's problems began on November 14, 2017, when it
was discovered that one of the Holy Cross College volunteers,
Jamie Bush, was having a sexual relationship with one of Mr.
McCullough's classmates. Ms. Bush was removed from the
facility. A few days later, Mr. McCullough received an odd
and unsolicited email by way of the prison's Jpay system.
The email was from someone he didn't know, and it read as
Please tell the ARAB, the one from Saudi Arabia / Seattle
that I love him. Tell him I will do and say whatever it takes
to get him out of this. I will say it is all my fault. I
talked to the Dr. and we had a good cry.
(ECF 7 at 12.) Mr. McCullough responded as follows:
You must have me confused with someone else. I don't know
you or who you are talking about. It appears you have some
problems in your life that don't concern me nor do I want
them to. Good luck. Be well.
(Id.) Mr. McCullough unsuccessfully tried to remove
this person from his Jpay list. A reply came a few days
later, revealing to Mr. McCullough for the first time that
Ms. Bush was the author.
Ok, ok, ok, sure. Please tell the ARAB, you know who I love
him. Enjoy your Pilatus Mi Amigo JB.
(Id.) Ms. Bush deleted her Jpay contact after
sending her reply, so no further communication took place
between Mr. McCullough and Ms. Bush.
November 30, 2017, while in the middle of giving a final oral
presentation, Mr. Watts removed Mr. McCullough from class and
told him that he was being relocated to a different dorm.
That same day his ability to use the Jpay kiosk was
permanently suspended for unauthorized contact with a
volunteer. (ECF 7-1 at 11.)
November 30, Mr. McCullough wrote to Dr. Serocynski advising
her of his status change and expressing a desire to ensure
that all of his remaining work was turned in so he could
complete his associate's degree as scheduled and receive
his one year time cut. Mr. McCullough knew from Dr.
Serocynski's earlier actions and words that she
didn't like him, so one solution he proposed was that he
simply be given F's on his remaining exams, knowing his
grades were high enough that he would still graduate. He
wrote his professors, too, asking that he be allowed to take
his final exams and turn in his final papers. Dr. Serocynski
told the professors not to accept any work turned in by Mr.
McCullough. Rather than being permitted to finish his course
work, Mr. McCullough was given incompletes.
McCullough met with Mr. Watts on December 27, 2017, and
discussed the Jpay exchange between him and Ms. Bush and its
impact on his participation in the Westville Education
Initiative. Mr. McCullough explained what happened, but Mr.
Watts indicated that moving him back to the dorm wouldn't
help him because “Alicia Serocynski is not accepting
[you] back into the college program.” (ECF 7 at 15.) It
was further explained that the reason was “because
Alicia Serocynski does not like you, and she is choosing to
give you incompletes instead of your time cut because she
can.” (Id.) When Mr. McCullough noted that the
IDOC policy would allow him to return to the program in six
months, Mr. Watts stated, “I have nothing to do with
that. Serocynski ...