Three former Richmond police officers who were found not guilty in March of charges stemming from a group sexual encounter with a woman have sued the Madison County sheriff and commonwealth's attorney and others.
In a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Lexington, former Sgt. James "J.J." Rogers and former patrol officers Garry Murphy and Brian Hensley are claiming malicious prosecution, abuse of criminal process, violation of privacy rights, defamation, conspiracy to violate civil rights and other things.
The three contend they were prosecuted on charges that were based on sex crimes that did not occur.
In March, Rogers was acquitted on alternative counts of intimidating a witness or tampering with a witness. Murphy and Hensley were acquitted on alternative counts of complicity to commit intimidation of a witness or complicity to tampering with a witness. Murphy also was found not guilty of a misdemeanor assault count in connection with the Oct. 26, 2009, sexual encounter.
The men say in their lawsuit that the woman was not a victim and that she told officials several times that the sex was consensual. The former Richmond officers contend that defendants in the lawsuit tried to pressure the woman into making a false statement that she had been sexually assaulted, telling her she could lose custody of her three minor children and be evicted if she did not.
The woman testified before a Madison County grand jury three times about the officers; the men were indicted the third time. But the charges were not for sex crimes.
The officials named in the suit wrongfully instituted a criminal action against the former officers, the suit says.
The woman had invited Rogers to her apartment and asked that he bring other police officers with him so they could fulfill her sexual fantasies, the lawsuit says. Rogers brought Murphy and Hensley. They were not on duty.
The three former Richmond officers say that in an initial interview with sheriff's deputies, the woman was told that "only a whore would engage in that kind of activity." Sgt. Scotty Anderson of the sheriff's department told her that he "would get those bastards' badges with or without your help" and that "it would be in her best interest to go along with the investigation," according to the suit.
In addition to Madison County Sheriff Nelson O'Donnell and Commonwealth's Attorney David W. Smith, the suit names Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jennifer Hall Smith; Scotty Anderson; Steve King, who was a detective with the sheriff's office; Bobbi Judd, a neighbor of the woman; Tina Grant; and Vivian Madden, the woman's landlord.
Rogers and Murphy were dismissed from the Richmond police force in June after the Richmond City Commission found each guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer. Hensley resigned.
"Obviously their lives have been turned upside down," said attorney Derek Humfleet, who represents the three men. "Emotionally, they're struggling."
He said the three want to return to law enforcement, but the case has hurt them.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jennifer Smith, who is married to Commonwealth's Attorney David Smith, said she and her husband had not seen the lawsuit, so she could not comment on it. An e-mail sent by the Herald-Leader to O'Donnell was not answered.
The lawsuit asks for a trial by jury of all triable issues; compensatory and punitive damages; and recovery of the former officers' costs, including attorney fees.