The now-former wife of the framed woman’s ex-fiancée falsely claimed to authorities that men were sent to her home to assault and rape the married couple.
ANAHEIM, Calif. (CN) — The city of Anaheim settled claims Friday alleging it unfairly prosecuted and jailed a woman who was framed on charges of sending men to her ex-fiancée’s home to attack him as part of a “rape fantasy.”
Michelle Suzanne Hadley spent 88 days in jail before charges were dropped accusing her of posting online ads inviting people to participate in a “rape fantasy” with Ian Diaz, her now-former husband and U.S. Marshals Service agent.
Beginning on June 13, 2016, Diaz began using fake emails to post and respond to rape fantasy advertisements on the online message board Craigslist while pretending to be Hadley posing as his wife Angela.
Angela Diaz had previously secured a temporary restraining order against Hadley and falsely claimed to law enforcement that Hadley was violating the court order by threatening the couple and harassing them.
At various points, Angela Diaz faked a pregnancy, falsely claimed to be an attorney and forged doctors’ notes as part of her accusations.
The posts directed strangers to the Diaz property in Anaheim. The couple called police and requested they arrest Hadley after showing them the emails purportedly written by her.
After serving warrants to Craigslist and Microsoft between June 18 and 22 to investigate the emails and online ads, Anaheim Police Department officers found the posts originated from devices at the Diaz residence.
Despite this knowledge, APD officers arrested Hadley on June 24 after Angela Diaz reported an attack by someone who answered a Craigslist post. Security footage of the Diaz property presented in federal court showed no one arrived at the home that day.
Hadley sued the city and its police department on Nov. 7, 2019, alleging officers ignored loads of exculpatory evidence in their possession that would’ve exposed the Diaz’s attempts to frame her.
The lawsuit claimed Anaheim failed to implement appropriate policies and training that would have prepared officers to adequately investigate the case.
Attorneys for the city said in court briefs the officers had probable cause to believe a crime had been committed and that Hadley was behind the attacks.
In a Sep. 18, 2020 ruling, U.S. District Judge David Carter denied the city’s summary judgment motion, finding that any “reasonably competent investigator” would have reviewed evidence in the case and found no probable cause.
“The court finds, therefore, that there is a clearly established right to be free of searches and seizures unsupported by probable cause, and there are genuine disputes of material fact as to whether the Anaheim Defendants had probable cause for Plaintiff’s arrests,” Carter wrote in the ruling.
Carter granted the city summary judgment against Hadley’s claims of excessive force, assault and battery.
Angela Diaz was charged on Jan. 6, 2017 with several crimes, including perjury and grand theft associated with her false accusations. She pleaded guilty to the charges in October 2017 and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Hadley was exonerated on Jan. 9, 2017. In court briefs, Hadley’s attorneys said she continues to suffer paranoia and anxiety as a result of her arrest, incarceration and alleged abuse by her ex-fiancée.
Attorneys for Hadley filed a notice in the Central District of California on Friday announcing a settlement dismissing claims against the remaining defendants who are Anaheim Police Department officers.
Hadley and Angela Diaz are in the process of finalizing a written settlement, according to the notice.
Margaret McLetchie, an attorney for Hadley, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Details of the settlement were not immediately available. The agreement was approved by the Anaheim City Council on April 27.
“We are glad to see this case come to a close so all involved can move forward. We hope this brings some peace and resolution for Michelle,” said Lauren Gold, a spokesperson for the city.