SCRANTON, Pa. (CN) - Five men who claim that they were jailed for months on bogus rape charges because of racism and "vile and shameful lies" can fine-tune their civil lawsuit, a federal judge ruled.
The men, who are now all in their 20s, say the charges arose after partying with two girls, then ages 15 and 16, in 2008.
After the girls sneaked away from a sleepover were having at the home of one of their grandmothers, they "took turns performing various acts of consensual sex" with Kasheen Thomas, his younger brother Gene Thomas II, Jaleel Holden and Jose Lacen, according to the complaint.
William Spiess allegedly "refused to engage in sexual relations with either" girl.
But when the girls were caught trying to sneak back into their respective homes, they "fabricated a story of being gang raped by plaintiffs," "rather than accept the consequence of their actions," the complaint says.
Pocono Mountain Regional Police subsequently arrested and charged the male partygoers with rape and related offenses, but the charges were ultimately dropped on the eve of trial, the suit says.
In a 2010 complaint, the men said that their accusers later admitted that they lied, and that the accounts they gave to detectives of what occurred on the night in question conflicted wildly.
The men claim that they, in contrast, gave consistent and at least partly verifiable statements.
They say one of the accusers also had a history of lodging unfounded rape allegations, and her own family believed she was a pathological liar.
Detectives and prosecutors allegedly knew about this history, and that she had been treated at a psychiatric facility for bipolar disorder.
But the men say they suffered because officers and prosecutors were bent on bringing charges "to create the illusion that they were taking action to combat the highly publicized and growing problem of violent crime in the Pocono's [sic], especially gang-related crime."
They say they are not, and never have been, gang members.
Racism also fueled the charges, according to the complaint, which notes that four of five arrested were black or Hispanic. Spiess, the only white plaintiff, says the detectives showcased their true intentions during his questioning,
The complaint quotes detectives as telling him: "You're white, what are you doing hanging out with these black kids in the first place, you should know better,"
"You're in a good position to go free and put these black gang-bangers away," and
"If you roll on these niggers now, you can walk away."
The complaint named more than a dozen entities and people as defendants, including the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department and Monroe County.
U.S. District Judge James Munley ruled Thursday that the men can file an amended complaint with a new defendant: the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Commission, an administrative body that governs the police department.
Discovery is set to end July 30.
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