LOUISVILLE (CN) – A man claims he lost his job years after being falsely accused of masturbating in public during a cheerleading competition.
Richard Molett sued the Kentucky State Fair Board, the Louisville Metro Government and nine people, including two Louisville police officers, in Jefferson County Court.
Molett says he was defamed and maliciously prosecuted after false accusations from onlookers who claimed that he “had his hand in his pants and that he had finished what he had started” while watching the cheerleaders.
In his complaint, Molett that while working at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Louisville on Super Bowl Sunday, 2011, he “was transporting [cheerleading] competition participants and their families to the East hall in the hotel’s shuttle bus. On one trip, a woman who identified herself as ‘Sherry,’ and who said she was attending the competition ‘with a group from Indianapolis,’ told Mr. Molett that she had inadvertently left a pair of her daughter’s sweatpants in a bag at the hotel desk. Mr. Molett offered to retrieve the bag and the sweatpants and bring them to ‘Sherry’ at the Hall. Because ‘Sherry’ said that she would be busy until after Mr. Molett’s work shift had ended, they made arrangements to meet at 4:30 pm, outside the Hall, where Mr. Molett could deliver the bag and sweatpants.
“When Mr. Molett arrived … ‘Sherry’ did not appear. After waiting in his car for some time, he parked his car and entered the Hall to look for ‘Sherry.’ For a period of time, he stood inside the entrance to the Hall scanning the crowd. Then, he walked around the premises looking for ‘Sherry,’ stopping at one time to use the restroom. He then returned to the entrance of the Hall where he had stood for some time before. Throughout this period, Mr. Molett was texting his girlfriend to let her know what he was doing and that he might be late for the Super Bowl party he was planning to attend.
“Unbeknownst to Mr. Molett, complaints had been made about his ‘suspicious’ presence, and security at the Center had placed a 911 call to the Louisville Metro Police Department (‘LMPD’) to report a ‘suspicious person’ and to request police assistance in escorting him from the premises. … Mr. Molett told the security officers what he was doing there … [and] proceeded to leave the hall accompanied by the security officers. After Mr. Molett had exited the Hall, however, defendants Darrell Hyche and Dale Hensley, who were LMPD police officers, arrived on the scene and began to question Mr. Molett. As reflected in the Uniform Citation prepared by defendant Hyche, Mr. Molett allegedly ‘smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes, and had slurred speech,’ ‘would not follow officer instructions,’ and had not paid to watch the competition. As a result, Officer Hyche arrested Mr. Molett and charged him with alcohol intoxication in a public place, trespassing and disorderly conduct.
“However, defendant Hyche also stated in the Uniform Citation the following: ‘Security and witnesses told officers that listed subject was in the north wing watching girls cheer. Witnesses approached security about listed subject masturbating while watching little girls cheer. Witnesses told security and the officers the subject had his hand in his pants and that he had finished what he had started. Subject had a wet spot on left side of his pants.'”
The witnesses mentioned in the report are named as defendants in the complaint, which claims that they made “‘complaints about a man playing with himself during the show … [and] they saw the man do this act publicly and watched him for about 45 min[utes].'”
Since his arrest, Molett says, he “steadfastly maintained his innocence, and refused to plead guilty to any of the charges against him or any lesser charge. His charges were subsequently increased to felonies based on allegations that Mr. Molett was chased into a bathroom by a mob at the cheerleading competition. However, on July 20, 2011, the Commonwealth dismissed all but the disorderly conduct charge against Mr. Molett … [who] still refused to plead and insisted on a jury trial.”
Molett says he was acquitted of disorderly conduct at trial. He claims, “there was no evidence, and never was any evidence, that [he] ever exposed himself, or had masturbated or ‘played’ with himself, or had ‘finished what he had started.’ Indeed, it is hard to imagine that a person engaged in such conduct would be regarded as merely a ‘suspicious person,’ or would merely be asked to leave the premises, or would be observed for 45 minutes without anyone taking any action to stop him or evict him from the premises, or would be given any opportunity to ‘finish what he started’ by attendees at the cheerleading competition or family members of the participants.”
Molett says his “arrest caused something of a media/Internet sensation,” which resulted in numerous articles that “still appear whenever Mr. Molett’s name is Googled,” including one with the headline “‘Richard Molett Gets Hammered, Goes to Cheerleading Competition and Masturbates.'”
“The posts that followed the articles left no doubt in Mr. Molett’s mind the revulsion with which he was now regarded in his home community. Mr. Molett was subsequently fired from his job at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, and has been unable to find employment since.”
Molett seeks actual and punitive damages for defamation, libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution and abuse of process.
He is represented by Garry Adams, of Clay, Frederick and Adams.