Bizarre Lesbian Assault Case Revived in Georgia
(CN) - A woman arrested based on fabricated claims that she sexually assaulted a female classmate may have a case against college police officers, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled.
The arrest stems from a report that Haley Maxwell made to the Department of Public Safety at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., in April 2009. Maxwell claimed that her classmate Amanda Hartley had beaten and sexually assaulted her in Maxwell's dorm room two weeks earlier.
Maxwell also claimed that she had gone to Hartley's apartment in Knoxville, Tenn., just the night before and that Hartley beat her again.
Hartley said campus police had her arrested in Tennessee on charges of battery, sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery.
She was extradited to Georgia where she allegedly faced more than three weeks of incarceration.
In her lawsuit against Agnes Scott College, three of its campus police officers and the head of the public-safety department, Hartley said a reasonable investigation by the District Attorney's Office showed that Maxwell fabricated the whole ordeal.
Evidence allegedly showed that Hartley was not in Georgia at the time of the assault, and the charges against her were dismissed in December 2009.
The defendants claimed immunity under the Georgia Tort Claims Act, but the trial court refused to dismiss the case.
The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed, 4-3, however, based on its consideration of whether a private campus police officer qualified as a "state officer or employee."
In the latest reversal handed down last week, the Georgia Supreme Court found that the defendants were not working for a state government entity.
"It is undisputed that Agnes Scott College - a private school - does not satisfy this definition, and the complaint does not allege that the Agnes Scott police officer defendants were acting for any other state government entity when they committed the alleged torts," Justice David Nahmias wrote for the court.
Assuming that the allegations of the complaint are true, Nahamias said "a reasonable investigation" by the defendants would have shown them Maxwell had fabricated her report.
"For example, the officers would have learned that the sign-in logs at Maxwell's dormitory indicated that Hartley had never been there; not a single person who lived at the dorm could confirm that Hartley had ever been there; a substantial number of independent witnesses could verify that Hartley was actually in Knoxville at the time of the alleged assault in Decatur; and Hartley is a non-violent person who exhibits the utmost respect for the rights and personal safety of others," the 19-page opinion states.
Maxwell also had made "bizarre claims" of mistreatment by personnel at the campus health center that had also turned out to be false, according to the ruling.