Student cleared of sex assault charges sues for malicious prosecution
A New Jersey student who had charges of sexual assault dismissed against him is suing the police who investigated him, alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution.
The accused student, who will not be named here because he is currently innocent under the law and no longer being charged or investigated, spent two weeks in jail because he was unable to post the $250,000 bail. He was eventually released on his own recognizance, and the charges were administratively dismissed 20 days later, without the case ever going before a grand jury.
The accused alleges in his lawsuit that the "probable cause" report that was used to justify the arrest was produced after the arrest was made, as the time of the arrest was mentioned.
"As such, this report purportedly establishing probable cause and justifying the arrest and criminal complaint had to have been completed after business hours on Nov. 12, 20l4, and certainly after plaintiff's arrest at 5:20 p.m. on that day," the lawsuit states. "The PC report, therefore, could not have served as a basis to justify the arrest of plaintiff as the decision to arrest and charge already had been made before the PC report's completion."
The probable cause report was prepared after the accuser's sexual assault examination but before the results were known to the officers, according to the lawsuit, which doesn't indicate what results were found.
The lawsuit also claims that the arrest warrant increased the intensity of the accuser's story. The arrest warrant stated that the accused "forcibely [sic] pulls down her pants and inserts his penis into her vagina against her will while the defendant is holding her arms down."
Yet the accuser didn't claim the accused was holding her arms down during the sexual encounter, but before.
"No, well, when I was trying to pull my pants up he was trying to like hold my — my arms down ... so he could pull down my pants ..." the lawsuit quotes the accuser as saying.
The accused and his attorneys also make clear they are not suggesting the accuser's side of the story is true. They do not, however, provide their version of events (nor do they need to since the charges were dismissed).
The lawsuit says the difference between what the accuser said and what was reported on the arrest warrant "was an order of magnitude much greater, far more sinister, and gave the impression of a violent assault, which was not at all what the accuser told the detective."
This, according to the lawsuit, demonstrated that the detective "knew" the accuser's story wouldn't be enough to establish probable cause. The accuser told three different versions of the story (however, the differences are not as material as I've seen in other cases).
The accused says in his lawsuit that he was subjected to unlawful search and seizure, detained based on "material misrepresentations" and had his due process rights infringed, all violations of the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit also claims the police officers violated the New Jersey Constitution, including denying him the "right to be free and independent, of enjoying and defending liberty and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness."
He is also suing for malicious prosecution, false arrest and imprisonment and negligence.
The lawsuit says the accused lost a semester of tuition and was forced to transfer to another school because of the stigma attached to the accusation and arrest. He was identified in a NJ.com article, and pointed out that "when someone is accused and charged with such a crime, what the public remembers is the fact of the heinous charge itself and not the subsequent article reflecting that the charge has been dismissed, as happened in this case."
The accused alleges that he suffered lifelong earning potential damage due to the publicity and his name being identified in the media.