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Federal judge agrees to hear Concord prisoner’s assault claim

A federal judge has agreed to consider a Concord inmate’s complaint that a corrections officer let another prisoner attack him last year, and that the warden subsequently locked him in solitary confinement for nearly a week.

The lawsuit was brought last month by the 23-year-old inmate, John Barber. It alleges that the officer, Brian Hill, allowed the other prisoner to enter Barber’s cell and then walked away as the prisoner began beating him with his fists.

Barber said he was moved to an isolation unit and told that the warden had requested the transfer because of the alleged incident. Barber contends he was left there for six days without clean clothes or toiletries.

In an order signed Monday, Judge Joseph Laplante of Concord’s U.S. District Court, said, “Barber has stated cognizable claims for failure to protect and cruel and unusual punishment.” The case now goes to the attorney general’s office, which represents the corrections department in civil suits. It has three weeks to file a response.

The corrections department declined last month to discuss the case, as it typically does with pending litigation.

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