A teenage inmate who was transferred to the Cumberland County Jail after being accused of coordinating a violent outburst with other youths at the South Portland juvenile detention center in January has filed suit against the jail, complaining about the conditions.

Kody Williams, now 18, filed a federal lawsuit alleging that after he was removed from his maximum-security cell because of a flooded toilet, he was made “severely uncomfortable” by being left in a cold cell for nine hours wearing only his boxer shorts.

“I believe all this was just to degrade and embarrass me,” Williams said in a handwritten lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Williams, joined by two other teenage inmates, is accused of being the ringleader of a wild 45-minute standoff at the Long Creek Youth Development Center on Jan. 30 that ended with him grappling with guards in riot gear. During the melee, Williams used the strap of a guard’s riot helmet to choke him until he “saw stars” and the blood vessels in his eyes popped, according to a Department of Corrections investigator’s report.

The incident caused thousands of dollars in property damage to the youth facility’s high-risk unit.

Williams was 17 at the time of the outburst, but prosecutors sought afterward to have him tried as an adult. He was transferred to the adult jail after turning 18 on Feb. 15.

Sheriff Kevin Joyce said that neither he nor the county’s attorney, Peter Marchesi, had yet been served with the lawsuit. But Joyce reviewed jail records after he was sent copies of the suit and confirmed that Williams had been removed from his flooded cell on April 11 so jail staff could clean it out.

“It appears he flooded his own cell by plugging the toilet and then took some excrement and rolled it under one of the other doors,” Joyce said.

Joyce said Williams had not filed any internal complaint at the jail, where there is a grievance process that he could have followed, rather than file a lawsuit.

“There is a process, and he’s circumvented the process,” he said.

Joyce recalled a lawsuit filed against the jail by another inmate who claimed a civil rights violation because inmates in maximum security were allowed only two books and that inmate wanted four. The case was dismissed.

“There are a lot of these that don’t get very far,” he said.

Williams and his companions in the Jan. 30 incident at Long Creek – Zachary Elwell, 18, and Ethan Grant, 19 – are accused of creating mayhem at the juvenile facility with the intention of being moved to an adult facility. They are accused of acting up as part of a plan “to wreak havoc, destroy property, so they could be transferred to the Cumberland County Jail,” according to the investigator’s report.

Together, the three broke off sprinkler heads, flooding water into a high-risk detention unit populated with other inmates. They used the legs from a broken wooden table to smash windows and a television screen. Two of them, including Williams, climbed into a ceiling crawl space and refused to come down, arming themselves with cinder blocks and cloth-wrapped fists with screws sticking out, the report says.

In his lawsuit, Williams claims the flooded toilet in his cell was not his fault and that he had been trying to stop it.

Williams filed the lawsuit without an attorney to represent him. He also filed paperwork seeking to have court filing fees waived, but Magistrate Judge John Nivison ruled Tuesday that the paperwork was incomplete. Nivison gave Williams until May 13 to complete the paperwork or pay the $400 filing fee.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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