Court ruling allows schoolteacher arrested for allegedly molesting 7-year-old to sue cop for false arrest

Court ruling allows schoolteacher arrested for allegedly molesting 7-year-old to sue cop for false arrest

Monday’s federal appellate decision in Wesley v. Campbell (6th Cir. Mar. 2, 2015) holds that “plaintiff Richard Wesley, formerly an elementary school counselor and child behavioral specialist” was entitled to sue police officer Joanne Rigney for false arrest (in violation of the Fourth Amendment). The facts (including the quite unpleasant allegations) are long and complicated, as is the court’s reasoning, but here’s an excerpt from the court’s analysis:

Both claims arose from the same incident, in which one of Wesley’s then-students [7-year-old J.S.] accused Wesley of sexually assaulting him and two other students in an office at the school’s administrative center. Rigney waited almost three months after the student made his allegations before seeking a warrant for Wesley’s arrest and then omitted from her application a range of material facts demonstrating the unreliability of the student and his allegations. Taken together, those omissions thoroughly undermined the existence of probable cause. Because the district court’s improper finding of probable cause supported its decisions to dismiss the complaint, we reverse the district court’s judgment and remand the case for trial….

The case against Wesley fell apart soon [after the arrest]. J.S. and his mother refused to cooperate with the prosecution’s investigation, and the state’s attorney concluded that the case could not be tried. At her request, a grand jury declined to indict Wesley, and the charges were dismissed. Nearly a year later, on February 15, 2010, an administrative hearing officer summarily reversed [social worker Alison] Campbell’s finding of substantiated abuse.

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