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Pa. Dep’t of Corr. v. Faison

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court

November 10, 2021

A Workers’ Compensation Judge was placed in the unusual position of having to make a factual determination as to whether a corrections officer raped another corrections officer in the prison’s break room. The claimant brought her allegations to the state police, but the police declined to press criminal charges after an investigation. As a result, there were no criminal proceedings to determine what had happened. Therefore, the parties litigated the allegations before the WCJ, with the claimant arguing that she was raped and the employer asserting the officers had engaged in consensual intercourse. The WCJ did a laudable job of weighing the evidence and concluded that the claimant was raped, that she suffered psychological injuries from the attack, and that those injuries left her totally disabled. The Workers Compensation Board of Appeals affirmed. The Commonwealth Court likewise affirmed. The Court rejected the employer’s arguments that the WCJ was without jurisdiction to make determinations that allegedly should occur in a criminal court and that the proceedings violated the alleged perpetrator’s due process rights. The Court also rejected the employer’s claims that corroboration was necessary and that the WCJ improperly weighed the evidence.

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