A teacher from Dayton found not guilty of charges of having sex with a 16-year-old student is now suing the prosecutor who brought the charges. The teacher, Nicole Howell, and her attorney, Eric Deters, filed the claim in U.S. District Court against Rob Sanders, Kenton Commonwealth’s attorney. Sanders released a statement saying that the lawsuit was baseless and without merit.
Sanders commented that he was simply another high profile person to be sued by Deters, a reference to the Deters suits against the New England Patriots and Chad Ochocinco. In addition, he commented on Deters radio career saying Deters was “a publicity seeking radio personality with a law license.”
Under law, a prosecutor cannot be sued as they have immunity. However, Deters claims that the actions prior to the charges being filed are not included in that immunity. Although Sanders says that a judge determined there was probable cause to arrest Howell, Deters argues that “when a prosecutor violated the public trust, those destroyed in the wake of the abuse of power deserve their remedy.”
In the state of Kentucky, only a judge can issue an arrest warrant. Kenton Circuit Judge Gregory Bartlett determined there was probable cause and sent the case on to the grand jury, where 12 members found that there was sufficient evidence to send the case on further, to the jury.
It took juries only 70 minutes to find Howell not guilty of first degree sexual abuse. Howell says she is suing the attorney because she doesn’t want someone else to face the same level of wrongful prosecution. She claims her reputation and her teaching career are over due to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that Howell’s previous attorney, Patrick Moeves, was told by Sanders that he did not care about the privately administered polygraph test that Howell passed. He wanted her arrested. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Kastner made statements to Moeves that she did not want any part of the case, however had to act as Sanders requested. Moreover, it claims that Sanders knew numerous facts that would dispute the minor’s claims. These facts include the polygraph test passage, the minor being unable to identify a tattoo on Howell’s back, rumors about the incident at school, and that the minor denied the rumors first before going forward.
Sanders, however, says that the minor did describe the layout of Howells apartment and could describe details of that apartment.
Interestingly, Howell’s case was the first prosecuted under a more-stringent state law that makes it a felony for a person in authority to have even consensual sexual relations with someone under 18. In all other instances in Kentucky, the age of consent is considered to be 16.