ELLENVILLE, N.Y. — Marcus Coles was hired by Samaritan Daytop Village in November 2018 “to look after addicts and protect them,” according to a lawyer representing one former resident in a civil suit against the facility.
But instead of protecting Regina Fitzpatrick’s client, Coles raped her, her lawyer said.
According to the suit filed in state Supreme Court by Fitzpatrick’s client, on three occasions in 2019, Coles “engaged in sexual conduct that involved the plaintiff” at the facility which consisted of “sexual intercourse and/or oral sexual conduct and/or other sexual conduct.”
The plaintiff’s name is being withheld by the Freeman to protect her privacy.
The female plaintiff, a client at Samaritan Daytop Village at the time of the alleged rapes, was unable to consent because she was a resident at the facility “who was engaged in a residential chemical dependence treatment program,” according to the suit.
Fitzpatrick’s client was allegedly coerced by Coles, who threatened that if she did not engage in sexual activity with him “he would report her for ‘vaping’ electronic cigarettes within the building, which would have jeopardized the plaintiff’s continued participation in her treatment program,” the lawsuit states.
Fitzpatrick said she believes that before Samaritan Daytop Village hired Coles as a residential house manager at the 767 Cape Road facility in the village, it had ready access to Coles’ felony record and misdemeanor drug convictions.
Samaritan Daytop Village has not returned phone calls regarding Coles and this lawsuit.
Before hiring Coles, “Samaritan knew or should have known that he had been convicted of a felony and negligently failed to investigate the circumstances thereof and whether the defendant Marcus Coles was qualified and fit to serve as an employee or house manager of an operator of a residential chemical dependence program…,” the lawsuit states.
On July 10, 2019, after Fitzpatrick’s client reported the assaults, Coles, 47, was arrested by state police at Wawarsing and was charged with two counts of rape of a victim incapable of consent and three counts of criminal sex act with a victim incapable of consent, all felonies. He subsequently pleaded guilty in Ulster County Court to a reduced charge of criminal sexual act. He was sentenced to 10 years probation and ordered to register as a sex offender.
Daytop staff member accused of raping a client at Wawarsing facility
Before hiring Coles, Samaritan knew or should have known that he had been arrested and convicted in Virginia for malicious wounding, a violent felony assault, Fitzpatrick said. “He stabbed his roommate in the back with a knife. He also then violated his release by testing positive for cocaine, according to papers that we have,” she said.
Then, she said, less than a year after moving to Ellenville and before he was hired by Samaritan, Coles was arrested twice in Ellenville where he lived — in 2014’s Operation Spring Cleaning and 2015’s Operation Buyer Beware — and charged in both stings with felony drug possession with intent to sell. Those charges were reduced to misdemeanor drug possession, but he was convicted, she said.
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“These weren’t arrests for … a small amount of personal use drugs. They were for someone who was selling or had intent to sell,” Fitzpatrick said.
For Fitzpatrick, her client’s case raises a larger issue. Currently, she said the firm is representing one female victim and one male, “This is a case that’s evolving. We started out with what looked like one victim and the case has evolved as we’ve looked at others,” she said.
“The bigger issue in my mind is [that] we happen to have a very strong young woman who happened to have this happen to her … and she makes prompt complaint and Marcus Coles is arrested on July 12, 2019. But it begs the question, … How many people is this happening to that are not reporting this because they feel unable to do so? They don’t want to jeopardize what they need to accomplish,” she said.
“Sexual assault is so underreported in our society in general, you’re talking about women and men who are in the facility trying to make improvements to their lives,” Fitzpatrick said. “Many times trying to avoid going to jail or prison. Many times trying to get their kids back. And so, how can Samaritan not take this seriously and assure that the residents of this facility are not going to be exposed to people who are predators?”
Citing Samaritan’s alleged knowledge of Coles’ prior record, the suit states that the facility is liable to the plaintiff for monetary damages to compensate her for “physical, emotional and psychological injury and distress.”
What Fitzpatrick finds particularly galling is that Coles is not the first Samaritan employee charged with sexually abusing residents of the facility.
In 2017, Todd Melendez, a former security guard at Samaritan Village pleaded guilty to raping and sexually abusing three female residents who were receiving addiction rehabilitation services at Samaritan.
Melendez pleaded guilty to two felony counts of rape and one misdemeanor count of sexual abuse and was sentenced to eight years in state prison to be followed by 15 years of post-release supervision.
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The Melendez case stemmed from alleged incidents between February and June 2016 that included sexual intercourse with two women and the sexual touching of a third, all at Samaritan Daytop Village.
Melendez was fired from the facility in June 2016.
After the Melendez arrest, “Samaritan was saying this was ‘a terrible one-time incident,’ slipped through the cracks and everything else, but the interesting thing here is that Marcus Coles, who is the defendant in our case, who was the house manager, he basically started working for Samaritan in November of 2018. … So while the charges are pending against Melendez in October of 2018, Samaritan is putting themselves in exactly the same position hiring this Marcus Coles,” Fitzpatrick said.
Coles “barely lasted eight months” before Fitzpatrick’s client was raped, she said. “How could Samaritan Village do this again?”
But can the 100-bed facility that has served addicts in Ulster County for decades be redeemed?
“It would be a terrible thing to say that it’s just a total loss,” Fitzpatrick said. “I certainly hope that it can be saved. But the question that you have to ask yourself is, ‘Why, after they went through this process in the first case from February of 2017, when Todd Melendez was indicted, through October of 2018, when Todd Melendez was sentenced, and then with civil action and civil lawsuits by those three victims … when they’re confronted by all of these issues, why are the steps not taken then to correct the problems?”
Fitzpatrick said she understands that, especially at a drug treatment facility, “that they may take a position that simply because someone has a criminal conviction that people can be redeemed, that’s part of getting treatment in general. … But certainly they can not take, or should not be taking misdemeanor convictions at face value. You need to investigate — especially when these are such recent convictions — what were the underlying circumstances and what were these about? … We’re not talking about somebody that got pulled over and happened to have a little cocaine in his pocket when he got his speeding ticket, but somebody that was part of a buy-and-bust operation in the very town where the facility is and where people are going to be getting treatment.”