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PAIGE v. POLICE DEPARTMENT OF SCHENECTADY

November 30, 2000

MARYANNE SHEIDRICK PAIGE, PLAINTIFF,
V.
POLICE DEPARTMENT OF THE CITY OF SCHENECTADY; CITY OF SCHENECTADY; MICHAEL GUTHINGER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A FORMER POLICE OFFICER, SCHENECTADY POLICE DEPARTMENT; GEORGE A. DAVIDSON, AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JOSEPH FORMOSA, FORMER ASSISTANT CHIEF, SCHENECTADY POLICE WEST PAGE 724



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, U.S. District Judge.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

II. FACTS

Paige alleges that late in the evening of August 12, 1981, when she was twelve years old, a Schenectady police officer forced her into a marked police vehicle, drove around the park, then assaulted her. According to Paige, the officer fondled her, handcuffed her, and choked her until she passed out or almost passed out. These allegations are disputed by defendants; however, they are accepted as true since facts and inferences therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant on a motion for summary judgment.

Paige then found herself near the edge of the park in a ditch, disoriented but no longer handcuffed. She went to a nearby sandwich shop, where the police and her parents were called.

The following facts are undisputed, unless otherwise noted. Police investigators responded to the call. Her father took her to the hospital. Paige's injuries included abrasions to her wrists, marks on her neck, and broken blood vessels in her eyes. It is disputed whether or not photographs of plaintiff's injuries were taken at the hospital. Plaintiff later gave a lengthy statement that was memorialized in writing by the investigator and signed by her. This statement identified police vehicle number 114 as the vehicle that was involved.

Police investigators, at some later time, took photographs of the alleged crime scene at the park, accompanied by Paige. The investigation continued, but vehicle 114 was not photographed nor processed as a crime scene. The investigation revealed that vehicle 114 was driven by Guthinger on the night in question.

The police called then-police officer Guthinger in for questioning, but on the advice of counsel he asserted his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Police discussed with Paige and her parents the possibility of taking a lie detector test to substantiate her story, but the test was never conducted. They also discussed a line up, but none was conducted. No action was taken by the police department against Guthinger, either as an internal disciplinary matter or as a criminal matter.

Four or five years after the alleged attack an attorney told Paige that no file could be located regarding the 1981 incident. In 1989 plaintiff saw Guthinger on a television report and seeing him confirmed that he was her alleged assailant in 1981. At approximately the time she turned 18, plaintiff made an informal request of the then-Mayor of the City of Schenectady ("the Mayor") for information or records regarding the 1981 incident. The Mayor told plaintiff that there were no such records. She never made a request for records under a freedom of information law.

In November 1996 a newspaper reporter revealed to Paige the existence of the police file regarding the 1981 incident. The reporter apparently contacted her as a follow up to a story about Guthinger being convicted of attacking a woman in Central Park in 1995. This action followed.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Procedural Posture


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