08/04/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, USA // Tara Monks // Tara Monks
Cranberry, PA – On Monday, August 2, 2010, a federal appeals court reinstated a Butler County woman’s lawsuit against a Cranberry police detective who charged her with falsely reporting a crime. The woman was robbed and raped at gunpoint, as reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Sara R. Reedy was attacked on July 14, 2004, while she worked alone as a cashier at a store in Cranberry. The detective on the case, Frank Evanson, claimed Reedy concocted the robbery and rape to cover up the fact that she robbed the store of $600. Evanson charged Reedy with falsely reporting a crime, theft and receiving stolen property.
Reedy was incarcerated for five days before she was able to post bail. She was a month away from trial in 2005 when Jefferson County police arrested Wilbur Cyrus Brown II as he sexually assaulted a store clerk.
Brown confessed to attacking Reedy, along with another attack that occurred three months after Reedy’s incident in Cranberry.
The charges against Reedy were dropped on September 1, 2005.
According to a three-judge panel of the third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Evanson was the lead investigator of the second attack, the one three months after Reedy’s, and knew that the description of the attacker matched that of Reedy’s.
Furthermore, Evanson knew that DNA from the second case connected Brown to a series of rapes that were under investigation.
A 2009 ruling by Judge David Cercone granted Evanson “qualified immunity” for his actions and dismissed the lawsuit.
An appeals court determined a jury should decide whether Evanson had probable cause for the charges, or if he violated her constitutional rights when he charged and arrested her.
The appeals court stated, “no reasonably competent officer could have concluded at the time of Reedy’s arrest that there was probable cause for the arrest,” adding that Cercone examined every fact in the case in a way that proved most favorable to Evanson.
The appeals court sent the case back to Cercone. It will proceed to trial.
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