'Wedgies' Blown Up Into Federal Case
POCATELLO, Idaho (CN) - A former student sued his high school, city, police and sheriff's officers and two prosecutors, claiming they blew up a few "wedgies" and "titty twisters" into multiple charges of sexual battery, of which he was cleared.
John Doe, "an individual formerly under 18 years of age," sued Blackfoot High School and its school district, Bingham County, the City of Blackfoot, and nine city, school and county officials, in Federal Court.
Doe claims he fears for his future after being charged, then cleared, of six counts of battery and false imprisonment, and one felony count of forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object.
Doe claims it was just a case of horsing around that was blown out of all proportion.
Doe was charged on Dec. 10, 2010 after a Blackfoot High School teacher overhead students discussing a hazing ritual called "shooshing," according to the complaint.
The teacher reported the conversation, which occurred Sept. 21, to the school guidance counselor and school resource officer, according to the complaint.
Neither the teacher, the guidance counselor nor the resource officer are parties to the complaint.
Doe says the incident gained momentum when as Blackfoot police/Bingham County sheriff Dets. Paul Newbold and Justin Dance interviewed witnesses who fingered Doe and three other members of the school basketball team.
Newbold and Dance, members of the city/county joint detective unit, are named as defendants. They built a mountain out of a molehill, and it garnered widespread media attention, Doe says in the complaint.
He claims the case was founded on misrepresentations and bad information.
Three purported victims claimed that nothing sexual happened and that the so-called assaults involved a "wedgy" and "titty twisters."
The alleged victims brushed off the incidents as jokes, according to the complaint.
The complaint states: "On or about Nov. 22, 2010, Detectives Paul Newbold and Justin Dance interviewed alleged victim B.H. about 'shooshing' and B.H. described shooshing in the following ways:
"'... mostly a joke to everybody;'
"'I mean, they didn't really do anything bad;'
"'I wasn't traumatized or anything;'
"'I'm just kind of baffled that it's even being brought up right now;'
"'They didn't shove anything in there;'
"'... wedgy, but nothing else;'
"'... fake fingering me;'
"'Nothing hard, nothing bad or anything;'
"'I don't have a problem with it - I almost forgot about it, actually.'" (Ellipses in complaint.)
In a later interview, B.H. said he didn't remember Doe even being involved, according to the complaint.
Doe claims the Blackfoot Police Department, its detectives and school administrators pursued the case against him anyway.
"Detectives Newbold and Dance, and Deputy Prosecutor Jared Ricks did not have any reasonable basis to believe a crime had occurred, since relevant details including time, place and who actually delivered the harmful or offensive contact were unknown and, at best, only generalized by any prospective victim," the complaint states.
Ricks is named as a defendant.
Doe claims that detectives had little evidence, save for witness interviews, "which all clearly manifest a lack of reasonable probability that Doe committed any crime, particularly any felony."
Doe claims he was never interviewed about his involvement in hazing or bullying at the school. Nor were any of the other defendants interviewed before charges were filed, he says.
Nonetheless, defendant Blackfoot School District No. 55 issued a press release on Dec. 7, 2010, stating that "'while reviewing bullying and harassment policies this fall, students at Blackfoot High School came forward, alleging they were victims of hazing,'" according to the complaint.
Doe says the claim was patently false.
"This statement is simply untrue as there were no students that came forward as a result of the district's review of its policies," the complaint states. "Rather, in John Doe's case, when S.C. [another alleged victim] was interviewed, he initially provided Doe's name to police. Further, police never questioned S.C.'s motive for mentioning Doe because they never spoke to Doe or Doe's parents prior to filing charges."
All charges against Doe and the other defendants were either voluntarily dismissed by the state or were found not to be true at evidentiary hearing, Doe says in the complaint.
Doe, who is now a college freshman and participating in sports, seeks damages for malicious prosecution, conspiracy, witness intimidation, obstruction of justice, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false statements and civil rights violations.
He is represented by Dustin Manwaring, with the Milestone Law Firm, of Pocatello.
Defendants include high school principal Blaine McInelly, district Superintendent Scott Crane, Bingham County Prosecutor J. Scott Andrew, Blackfoot Police Chief R. David Moore, and police Capt. Kurt Asmus.
The online Urban Dictionary defines "shooshing" as "two adults in footy pajamas racing each other down carpeted stairs."