Just as alleged sexual predator Richard Miller's motion to suppress evidence was denied last Thursday, another development in a different suit involving the 67-year-old Kenai man is hot on its heels. And in this one, the tables are turned.
Next Friday, the initial status report is due for a case Miller filed in Sept. 2009 with several other men against the City of Kenai and nearly a dozen of its police officers. The most noteworthy aspect of the suit is that all three of the young men Miller is accused of sexually assaulting are also plaintiffs in the case, i.e., they're on his side.
"All the young men who were supposedly taken advantage of by Mr. Miller are suing the City of Kenai for its misconduct and the misconduct of their officers regarding the nearly same matters of what Mr. Miller is being charged for in the criminal case," wrote Dan O'Phelan via e-mail, the attorney for the plaintiffs.
The criminal case against Miller came to fruition when a female minor named A.A. (a defendant in the civil case) told a school social worker and subsequently the police that Miller was sexually abusing her underage brother, G.A., and other young males referred to as M.M. and B.A. A search of Miller's home and work turned up a large amount of graphic child pornography culled from the Internet.
"My point is that the very people that AA accused of being victims, all deny any of her allegations," O'Pehlan wrote. "And AA's statements were the basis of the charges filed against Mr. Miller in the first place."
The civil suit, initially pursued through the state courts, moved to the U.S. District Court on Feb. 24, 2010. The upcoming status hearing will determine the scheduling for actions such as pre-trial motions and evidence discovery.
In the complaint filed in 2009 by O'Phelan on behalf of Miller and the other plaintiffs, it is alleged that the Kenai Police Department and many of its officers engaged in conduct that was "extreme and outrageous beyond all possible bounds of decency and utterly intolerable in a civilized community" when interviewing G.A., B.A., and M.M.
The three young men claim that when they were initially arrested and taken in for interviews, no one read them their Miranda Rights and their parents were not notified of their detention. The men also allege that "police officers suggested information which would have led to false confessions" and that the officers continued to "interrogate, harass, and coerce" them in an unprofessional manner.
Other charges leveled against the Kenai police officers in the suit involve abuse of process, false arrest/imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
A.A. is bearing the brunt of the suit's defamation charge, as her initial allegations are what led to the police investigation of Miller.
The complaint mentions that the allegedly false statements made by A.A. "rise to the level of slander and defamation causing Richard Miller to be investigated for sexual abuse causing loss of standing in the community, losing his business contacts, family, and extreme emotional distress."
It is also contended within the complaint that A.A. was "a minor who police had reasons to know was dishonest," and that she "had a reputation for making false statements."
Ultimately, as the plaintiffs see it, A.A. was the impetus that got this whole snowball rolling: her accusations led to the police investigating the matter, which led to the supposedly unethical interviewing practices of the officers involved, which led to Miller being arrested on more than 100 felony charges.
"In my view, I have yet to become aware of any evidence that connects Mr. Miller to any criminal act," O'Phelan wrote. "Other than the hearsay statements by AA."
Miller and the other plaintiffs in the case are suing for compensatory damages well in excess of $1 million and punitive damages in excess of $1 million, as well. The plaintiffs ask that the defendants also be held responsible for all present and future medical bills incurred by the plaintiffs as a result of the defendants' misconduct, and that their attorney and court fees be paid for.
Karen Garcia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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