Former Mass. federal prison guard sent to prison for violating civil rights of injured inmate

A former guard at a federal prison in Massachusetts who prosecutors say caused serious head injuries to a handcuffed inmate with severe mental health disorders has been sentenced to a year in prison.

Seth Bourget, 42, of Woodstock, Connecticut, was also sentenced in federal court in Boston on Monday to two years of probation, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office. He was convicted by a jury in December of deprivation of civil rights under color of law.

“Corrections officers are placed in a position of public trust and the overwhelming majority of correctional officers do their jobs with professionalism, respect and dedication to protect and serve,” acting Boston U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy said. “In this case, a jury unanimously found that Mr. Bourget abused his position of authority when he violently struck a mentally ill and defenseless inmate.”

The inmate at the Federal Medical Center in Devens had been acting out in June 2019 and had been sprayed in the face with pepper spray and locked in a cell with his hands cuffed behind his back for about 45 minutes, prosecutors said.

The inmate was agitated and unable to engage in a coherent conversation or understand verbal commands, prosecutors said.

Bourget led a group of five correctional officers into the cell, thrust a protective shield he was holding upward and struck the inmate in the chin area, snapping his head back and causing him to fall back onto the concrete floor, according to evidence presented at trial.

The inmate suffered lacerations to the head that required 12 staples and a cut on his lip that required six stitches, prosecutors said.

Bourget was arrested in February 2020 and pleaded not guilty.

FMC Devens, with about 900 total inmates, specializes in treating inmates who require long-term medical or mental health care.



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