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Sexual Assault
"For truth is always strange,
Stranger than fiction."
Lord Byron

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George F. Denton,
Director of Corrections
of California


Mike Hernandez
Sexual Assault

Justice O'Connor Decision
May 4, 1992
Seal Of The Supreme Court

Petitioners are 15 officials at various institutions in the California penal system. Between 1983 and 1985, respondent Mike Hernandez, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, named petitioners as defendants in five civil rights suits filed in forma pauperis. In relevant part, the complaints in these five suits allege that Hernandez was drugged and homosexually raped a total of 28 times by inmates and prison officials at different institutions. With few exceptions, the alleged perpetrators are not identified in the complaints, because Hernandez does not claim any direct recollection of the incidents. Rather, he asserts that he found needle marks on different parts of his body, and fecal and semen stains on his clothes, which led him to believe that he had been drugged and raped while he slept.

... An in forma pauperis complaint may not be dismissed, however, simply because the court finds the plaintiff's allegations unlikely. Some improbable allegations might properly be disposed of on summary judgment, but to dismiss them as frivolous without any factual development is to disregard the age old insight that many allegations might be "strange, but true; for truth is always strange; Stranger than fiction." Lord Byron, "Don Juan," Canto XIV

Poem excerpt:

"Don Juan," Lord Byron

But great things spring from little:
Would you think,
That in our youth, as dangerous a passion
As e'er brought man and woman to the brink
Of ruin, rose from such a slight occasion,
As few would ever dream could form the link
Of such a sentimental situation?
You'll never guess, I'll bet you millions, milliards
It all sprung from a harmless game at billiards.
T'is strange, but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction; if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!
How differently the world would men behold!
How oft would vice and virtue places change!
The new world would be nothing to the old,
If some Columbus of the moral seas
Would show mankind their souls' antipodes.