'John Doe' takes hazing case to federal court
A Blackfoot man who was charged as a juvenile in the Blackfoot hazing cases in 2010 has filed a complaint and demand for a jury trial in federal court.
The lawsuit was filed Monday afternoon by "John Doe" in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho against officials of the Blackfoot School District and Bingham County.
As stated in the lawsuit, "Plaintiff John Doe is an adult male individual, … presently a citizen and resident of a state other than Idaho.
"The Plaintiff's identity is not pleaded in order to protect the identity of the Plaintiff because the Plaintiff was a minor when the events giving rise to this Complaint occurred. … The identity of the Plaintiff will be made known to the Defendants by separate communication."
The defendants are Blackfoot School District No. 55, Blackfoot High School (BHS), John Does 2-XX, former superintendent Scott Crane, former BHS principal Blaine McInelly, the County of Bingham, Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney J. Scott Andrew, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Randy W. Smith, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jared Ricks, the City of Blackfoot, Blackfoot Police Chief R. David Moore, Blackfoot Police Captain Kurt Asmus, and Blackfoot Police detectives Paul Newbold and Justin Dance.
The facts presented in this lawsuit include:
° Sometime around June 2010, BHS Principal McInelly was informed about an "incident" during the previous boys' basketball season, but declined to take any specific course of action in response.
° In June 2010, Blackfoot Police / Bingham County Detectives received a report of bullying by a BHS student athlete that referred to "a game called shhh."
° In September, the detectives began interviewing additional students.
° The complaint states that John Doe never was interviewed by detectives about his alleged involvement in hazing or other bullying at BHS. Similarly, none of the other eventual "hazing" defendants were ever personally interviewed prior to charges being filed.
° On or about Dec. 20, 2010, Superintendent Crane appeared by telephone on national cable news network CNN.
"The mass dissemination of false information on national television was a direct catalyst to further mischaracterization and mass hype within the local and regional community about the kind of offenses that John Doe was alleged to have committed," the complaint states.
° "All of the charges against John Doe were either voluntarily dismissed by the State or were found not true at evidentiary hearing. Thus, all of the charges were terminated in favor of the Plaintiff."
Two of the nine counts filed in this complaint are intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
John Doe requested damages, to be established at trial, as compensation for personal injuries to his reputation and loss of future career prospects and damages "to punish defendants for willful and wanton, and malicious conduct … "
John Doe has also asked for an award of attorney's fees and costs.