Lawsuit claims authorities falsely accused locals of sex trafficking



Posted on January 2, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 3 at 10:23 AM

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash-- Four people, who claim they were falsely accused in a 2012 sex trafficking case, filed a lawsuit against Spokane County and members of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

In 2012, authorities arrested the four named suspects after a 21-year-old woman identified their home as the place that five girls were being held against their will and forced into prostitution according to court documents.  The woman reported being sold for sex, forced to take drugs and held against her will for a year according to court documents.

The men were released from jail within a week and never charged for the incident. Detectives later stepped back due to lack of evidence according to documents.

WATCH:  All Suspects in trafficking case released from jail, no charges filed

Spokane Attorney Richard Wall took their case. 

“These four people came to me first of all because they wanted to right the terrible wrong that was done to them,” Wall said. “They were accused of a really horrible, heinous crime. Probably one of the worst things you could be accused of.”

The lawsuit filed against Spokane County, a sheriff detective, and public information officer names unlawful arrest, violation of due process, negligence, and recklessness during the investigation.

“The accusations were totally baseless. The police should have known that long before going to their house if they had done their job properly,” Wall said.

The complaint also cited defamation. It said the four people “suffered extreme embarrassment, humiliation, public ridicule and scorn.” One of them lost his job after the accusations became public according to documents.

Wall said, “It was very frightening, very upsetting, and the long term impacts are their names are forever associated with these accusations.”

Deputies said the original accuser became uncooperative and they could not find evidence to support her claim.  She was never charged in the case either.

The lawsuit sought money for general and punitive damages, but did not list the amount. Wall was still waiting for a response from the county on Thursday.