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Snyder v. Smith

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 14, 2014

SAMANTHA SNYDER, Plaintiff,
v.
RODNEY SMITH, JR, ELI SMITH, TREY CROCKETT, DAKOTA BEARD, CAIRA BOLEN, FRANKFORT POLICE DEPARTMENT, CITY OF FRANKFORT, JASON ALBAUGH Detective, ROBERT HESSION Detective, TROY BACON Chief, CHRIS MCBARNES Mayor of Frankfort, Indiana, AUTUMN DICK (Added per Second Amended Complaint of 7/10/13.), Defendants

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For SAMANTHA SNYDER, Plaintiff, Counter Defendant: Andrea Lynn Ciobanu, CIOBANU LAW, PC, Indianapolis, IN.

For TREY CROCKETT, Defendant: David Lawrence Whitsett, II, Frankfort, IN.

For CAIRA BOLEN, Defendant, Counter Claimant: Matthew J. Elkin, Kokomo, IN.

For FRANKFORT POLICE DEPARTMENT, CITY OF FRANKFORT, JASON ALBAUGH, Detective, ROBERT HESSION, Detective, TROY BACON, Chief, CHRIS MCBARNES, Mayor of Frankfort, Indiana, Defendants: James S. Stephenson, Rosemary L. Borek, STEPHENSON MOROW & SEMLER, Indianapolis, IN.

For CHRISTINA BOLEN, Counter Claimant: Matthew J. Elkin, Kokomo, IN.

OPINION

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SARAH EVANS BARKER, United States District Judge.

ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS

This cause is before the Court on motions to dismiss filed by three groups of defendants. Defendants Caira Bolden and Christina Bolen filed their Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [Docket No. 46] on August 23, 2013. Defendants Jason Albaugh, Troy Bacon, Robert Hession, Chris McBarnes, the Frankfort Police Department, and the City of Frankfort (collectively, the " Frankfort Defendants" ) filed their Motion to Dismiss Third Amended Complaint [Docket No. 70] on August 26, 2013. Lastly, Defendant Trey Crockett filed his Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and for Lack of Jurisdiction [Docket No. 77] on September 16, 2013. For the reasons set forth below, the motions are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

Factual and Procedural Background

Facts

Plaintiff Samantha Snyder was a resident of Frankfort, Indiana, at the time of the incidents recounted in the Complaint. Compl. ¶ 8.[1] She claims, broadly speaking, that she was victimized in two ways: first, when she suffered a sexual assault, and second, when Frankfort city and police officials failed to respond adequately, allegedly conspiring with some of the perpetrators of the original sexual assault to mishandle the investigation, avoid charging any suspects, mistreat Plaintiff personally, and leave her feeling vulnerable to further assaults.

The Sexual Assault

Plaintiff alleges that, while at the home of Defendant Caira Bolen in Frankfort, she was given 8 capsules of Klonopin, an anti-seizure medication that she had never taken before. She took the pills, which have a powerful depressant effect in large doses, in order to " feel better." Compl. ¶ ¶ 24-25. Plaintiff and Bolen then went to a party at 552 East Washington Street, Frankfort, a house owned by Defendant Eli Smith. Id. at ¶ 22.[2] After she had entered the house, Defendants Dakota Beard and Trey Crockett, fellow party-goers, asked her to expose herself, and she refused. Shortly thereafter, Rodney

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Smith, the son of Eli Smith, who is nicknamed " Boomer," offered her an " unknown substance" to drink; after drinking it, Plaintiff lost consciousness. Id. at ¶ ¶ 27-30.

When Plaintiff regained consciousness, Defendants Beard, Eli Smith, Bolen, and Crockett were restraining her while Beard, Eli Smith, and Crockett sexually assaulted her.[3] Plaintiff asserts that her ability to resist the assault--or to remember it in detail--was hampered by the lingering effects of the Klonopin pills. When she finally did escape their clutches as well as the party, Plaintiff succeeded in contacting her father for help; he in turn called 911 and requested emergency assistance. Id. at ¶ ¶ 35-38. Plaintiff was transported to the hospital in Frankfort.

The Investigation and Aftermath

The Frankfort Police Department dispatched Defendant Detective Robert Hession to the hospital to interview Plaintiff about the alleged assault. According to Plaintiff, he turned off the customary tape recording of the interview well before it was over, and began to behave in a confrontational, inappropriate manner while off the record. Hession allegedly told Plaintiff that the rape was her fault because she had dressed in a " provocative manner" ; he further insinuated that she was " crying rape" because of race (some of her assailants were black, and Plaintiff is white). Id. at ¶ ¶ 39-43.[4] Hospital staff performed rape kit examinations on Plaintiff, and a nurse told her that she had suffered bruising and other injuries that usually occur only in instances of sexual assault. Id. at ¶ ¶ 46-47. After Plaintiff's release from the hospital, Defendant Hession requested a second interview with her. Plaintiff asked to have her hospital " Victim's Advocate" present at any new interview with Hession; Hession refused to accede to this request and did not perform a follow-up interview. Id. at ¶ ¶ 49-50.

Plaintiff and her family grew concerned about the slow progress of the Frankfort Police Department's investigation and expressed concerns to both the Mayor of Frankfort, Defendant Chris McBarnes, and the Frankfort Police Chief, Defendant Troy Bacon. More specifically, Plaintiff's father communicated to Bacon that both Hession and Defendant Jason Albaugh, a Frankfort Police Detective assigned to the matter, had personal contacts with the sexual assault suspects that had potentially compromised the integrity of their investigation. Id. at ¶ ¶ 59-60. According to Plaintiff, Albaugh's step-daughter, Defendant Autumn Dick, was in a long-term romantic relationship with Rodney " Boomer" Smith. Plaintiff also alleges that Hession had maintained inappropriate personal relationships with Beard, " Boomer" Smith, and Crockett. Id. at ¶ 60. Police Chief Bacon responded to these concerns by agreeing with Plaintiff's family that she should have no further contact with Hession; he demurred from promising any concrete action regarding the investigation, stating that " he knew nothing about the detective side of the case, because he has never been a detective before." Id. at

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¶ 64. When told of Hession's behavior and the possible conflicts of interest among the officers, Mayor McBarnes promised Plaintiff's father that the officers would be " punished," agreeing that the case had been mishandled. Id. at ¶ 54.

Despite these assurances from the Mayor and the Police Chief, however, Plaintiff maintains that Defendants willfully impeded progress in the investigation of her assault and the prosecution of its perpetrators. Contrary to Mayor McBarnes's assurances, the rape kit from the hospital was not delivered to the Indiana State Police crime lab until five weeks after the examination--Plaintiff contends that this lapse greatly exceeds the standard practice in rape investigations. Id. at ¶ 56. The Frankfort Police never obtained a warrant to search the house at which the assault allegedly took place, nor did they ever collect any physical evidence from the site. Id. at ¶ 57. A tape recording of Defendant Crockett, one of the alleged assailants, admitting that Plaintiff was incapacitated and thus unable to consent to sexual intercourse on the night of the assault, which recording Plaintiff's father forwarded to Hession, was never submitted as evidence to the prosecutor's office. Id. at ¶ 67. Neither Hession nor Albaugh was removed from his position heading the investigation, and, as of the filing of Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint, the Frankfort Police had brought no charges against any of the alleged assailants. Id. at ¶ 68.

Plaintiff claims that the misconduct of Hession, Albaugh, Bacon, McBarnes, the Frankfort Police Department, and the City of Frankfort (collectively, the " Frankfort Defendants" ) caused her harm that extends beyond the frustration and outrage of witnessing a fruitless investigation that yielded no prosecution for her assault. She alleges that city and police officials verbally abused her, directing epithets at both her and her family. See, e.g., id. at ¶ 297. According to Plaintiff, the official mishandling of her case propagated a " blame the victim" attitude that caused her emotional and reputational harm, and led to incidents such as Defendant Caira Bolen's vandalism of her car. Id. at ¶ 304.[5] Because the assailants have not been punished, Plaintiff relates that she feels unsafe in the community; she avoided her high school graduation because several of the perpetrators would be present, and she changed her plans to attend Vincennes University because Defendant Eli Smith is a student there. Id. at ¶ ¶ 305-312.

Procedural History

Plaintiff filed suit on April 8, 2013, against Rodney Smith, Jr., Rodney Smith, Sr., Eli Smith, Trey Crockett, Dakota Beard, Caira Bolen, Christina Bolen, the Frankfort Police Department, the City of Frankfort, Detective Jason Albaugh, Detective Robert Hession, and Frankfort Police Chief Troy Bacon.[6] Docket No. 1. The initial complaint consisted of ten claims, all of them rooted in state law. The Frankfort Defendants moved to dismiss this complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) on the grounds that it failed to raise a federal question. See Docket No. 16.

Plaintiff responded by filing an Amended Complaint on June 6, 2013. The Amended Complaint added three federal causes of action: deprivation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, conspiracy to ...


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