PHILADELPHIA – (CN) A woman says a police officer installed a GPS tracking unit on her car, used police resources to gather personal information on her, and got her drunk and took pictures of her while she was passed out and naked. She sued Shillington police Officer Michael Leach in Federal Court. Shillington is a suburb of Reading.
Alyssa Merkey claims she met Officer Leach at the scene of a car accident, and after a few calls and an invitation to lunch, what she thought was an innocent friendship soon became a nightmare.
Merkey says Leach barraged her with gifts, with offers to have her car fixed, and used police recourses to obtain “restricted information about other individuals.” She says she repeatedly turned down the gifts and offers of help, and that this made Leach mad and hostile.
She claims that Leach installed a GPS tracking device on her car without her knowledge. “Utilizing the GPS device, defendant Leach trailed and shadowed plaintiff Merkey and learned her whereabouts and with whom she was associating,” according to the complaint.
She claims that Leach invited her to meet him for a cocktail, but “secretly exchanged the 80 proof liquor with 100 proof liquor,” causing her to pass out.
While passed out, Merkey says, Leach removed her clothes and took eight pictures of her, and shared them with other members of the Shillington Police Department.
Merkey says she demanded he delete the digital photos, but Leach “refused and threatened plaintiff Merkey by boasting about other individuals who had ‘crossed’ him in the past and the ‘consequences’ they paid.”
She claims Leach also used his police influence to get a key to her house while she was recovering from injuries in a hospital.
She says he got ahold of her private e-mails and tracked down a number of her associates, including ex-boyfriends, to ask about her “sexual proclivities.”
Merkey says a co-worker reported the harassment to the state police, which began investigating in September 2009. She claims that during that investigation, defendant T. Corey Yochimowich, the Shillington police chief, “conceded that he was aware of defendant Leach’s invasion on [sic] plaintiff Merkey’s privacy but did not take corrective action to cause defendant Leach’s unlawful conduct to cease because he was ‘waiting for [plaintiff Merkey] to file a complaint’.” (Second brackets as in complaint.)
Merkey demands punitive damages from Leach, the Borough of Shillington and Yochimowich.
She is represented by Sidney Gold.