Lawsuit alleges abuse of woman by probation officer
A civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Reno alleges a Carson City Alternative Sentencing officer falsely imprisoned a female charge and coerced her into allowing him to “inspect” her body by threatening to arrest her.
A lawsuit filed Oct. 18 in U.S. District Court alleges that on Sept. 6, Alternative Sentencing Officer Aaron Lewis brought Melissa Mulder, 20, into his office at the Carson City courthouse about 10:30 p.m. for a purported drug test.
Mulder was on alternative sentencing following a drug arrest.
The complaint and jury demand states that Lewis told Mulder her urinalysis results indicated she had been using drugs, “and if she told anyone what happened he would disclose that fact.”
Lewis also allegedly demanded Mulder plead guilty to certain charges or he would inform the judge her drug test was “dirty.”
The complaint goes on to allege that Lewis “made plaintiff expose her breasts and genitals to him,” and “urinate in his presence.”
In a second alleged incident, Lewis called Mulder at home and threatened to put her in jail if she did not come out to his car parked two blocks from her home.
Once she was in the car Lewis again subjected the woman to a more invasive examination of her breasts and genitals, the complaint alleges,
On Sept. 9, Mulder’s mother reported the incident to police.
Mulder’s attorney Jeffrey Dickerson claims the incident subjected his client “to severe emotional and mental distress and anguish, humiliation and feeling demeaned as to her self worth as a woman.” Dickerson asks for damages exceeding $20,000.
The lawsuit also names Carson City as a defendant, alleging that “Carson City failed to exercise reasonable care in conducting background check of this individual as to avoid this harm to plaintiff. He had issues at prior employers.”
“We intend to investigate in this action Carson City’s practice of hiring people into positions like this, because our preliminary investigation indicated he left the Department of Prisons and Lyon County Sheriff’s Office under potentially irregular circumstances,” said Dickerson on Wednesday. He said if anyone has information pertaining to the case they can contact him at his Reno office at 786-6664.
Dickerson said he was not informed of a possible criminal investigation into the allegations by the Attorney General’s Office. A call to Dale Liebherr, deputy chief investigator for the Attorney General’s Office, was not immediately returned.
An internal investigation was done on behalf of Alternative Sentencing by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the results of which are not public record.
Carson City Alternative Sentencing Chief Rory Planeta said he was not at liberty to discuss particulars of the case.
“Any time we get a complaint about someone we have to follow certain procedures. For a peace officer it’s lined out in NRS 289. We follow those procedures, as well as our own internal procedures, to a ‘T’ and we take all complaints seriously,” said Planeta.
Lewis has been with the Department of Alternative Sentencing since April 2009. He has been on paid administrative leave since the allegations came to light. He could not be reached for comment.