Club’s Indecent Exposure|Claim Wasn’t Defamatory

     (CN) – A Michigan athletic club did not defame a man by falsely accusing him of exposing himself to two female lifeguards, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled.

     The lifeguards at East Lansing Michigan Athletic Club told their manager that a man had flashed them. The manager reported the incident to the club’s executive director, who conducted an investigation.
     The lifeguards indentified David Wilson as the culprit. The executive directors reported this to the police, who conducted their own investigation, which ended in Wilson’s arrest for indecent exposure.
     However, another man was caught exposing himself at a later date, and he confessed to the first crime.
     Police dropped the charges against Wilson, who sued the club for defamation and negligence.
     The trial court ruled for the athletic club. The appeals court affirmed, ruling that the police investigation that led to the arrest absolved the club of blame.
     “After defendants conducted a modest, preliminary internal investigation following complaints of a crime, they turned matters over to the police,” Judge Henry Saad wrote. “It was then in the hands of law enforcement, and it was the prosecutor’s decision whether the police gathered sufficient evidence against Wilson to bring criminal charges.”

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