In a recent appellate decision, a federal court has held that a former elementary school teacher is entitled to sue a police officer for false arrest. This stems from allegations by a seven year old that the counselor and child behavior specialist had been molesting the child in the educator’s office.
After the allegations were made, the arresting officer waited three months before obtaining a warrant for the counselor’s arrest. The officer also omitted vital facts that would have demonstrated the accuser’s unreliability as well as cast a major shadow of doubt onto those same allegations. However, these omissions were not the only roadblock in the case against the educator.
Soon after the arrest, as the prosecution was attempting to build a case, the accuser and the accuser’s mother refused to provide any assistance to the prosecution. Shortly thereafter, a grand jury declined to indict the accused and the criminal case was dismissed. In addition, the accuser successfully appealed the social worker’s finding of substantiated abuse. One year after the criminal case was dismissed, an administrative hearing officer reversed the social worker’s finding.
After all charges were dismissed, the educator sought to sue the arresting officer for false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the 6th Circuit ruled in the educator’s favor. The court found the accuser’s allegations were not legally sufficient to create probable cause for numerous reasons. First, the accuser suffered from a history of serious psychological and emotional issues. In addition, the accuser’s allegations were inconsistent, the investigation failed to uncover any evidence corroborating the abuse, and the location where the abuse allegedly occurred was in the center of the school’s administrative offices, which were directly in the line of sight of many other staff members.
Based on these factors, the court found the educator was arrested without probable cause, especially due to the officer’s own material misrepresentations. Thus, the court further held the arresting officer is not entitled to qualified immunity because the officer’s arrest warrant contained deliberated omissions that were material to the finding of probable cause. This means the accused is now entitled to sue the police officer for false arrest – a scenario that seldom occurs.
Accusations such as these are enough to destroy a life even if the allegations are false. The public stigma regarding sex crimes carries with it a great weight and burden that is felt by those who have been accused. Finding yourself in a situation such as the one above can happen and do often occur in today’s society. Whether or not there is a shred of credible evidence or any supporting witnesses does not matter. Once the label has been applied it is a label that has the potential to follow a person for life, unless that person is able to fight those claims successfully.
The attorneys at Bleile & Dawson are extremely knowledgeable in defending against sexual abuse allegations. When it comes to defending our clients against wrongful allegations, whether in the State of Ohio or the Commonwealth of Kentucky, we do not back down in the fight for your rights. If you feel that you have wrongly been accused of a crime and seek to find the best possible representation to fight for you, hire a law firm that puts the client first and fights hard to protect the client. Contact us today for a completely confidential consultation at (513) 399-5945.