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Bastuk v. County of Monroe

United States District Court, Second Circuit

November 19, 2013

WILLIAM BASTUK, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF MONROE, et al., Defendants.

DECISION & ORDER

MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, William Bastuk, ("Bastuk" or "Plaintiff"), brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the County of Monroe ("County"), Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn ("Sheriff O'Flynn"), Investigator Patrick Crough (Inv. Crough"), Investigator Steve Peglow ("Inv. Peglow"), former Monroe County District Attorney Michael Green, ("DA Green"), and former Assistant District Attorney Kristy Karle, ("ADA Karle").

Plaintiff's claims arise out of his 2008 arrest and prosecution on charges of raping a 16-year-old girl ("the Complainant"). The charges were based on a May 15, 2008 complaint by the Complainant who alleged that she had been raped by Bastuk on September 5, 2007, between the hours of 8:00 and 9:00 pm in a shed at the Rochester Yacht Club ("Yacht Club") during an end of year sailing party. She provided a supporting deposition and selected Bastuk out of a lineup. Complaint ¶ 24-30, 37.

Plaintiff was arrested on June 20, 2008, and on June 21, 2008 he pled not guilty before Hon. Theresa Johnson in Rochester City Court. Id., ¶ 69. On August 26, 2008, Bastuk was arraigned on Rape 1st, 2nd and 3rd and unlawful imprisonment. Id., ¶ 91. On May 15, 2009, Bastuk was acquitted of all charges by a jury. Id., ¶ 127. Plaintiff commenced this action on March 24, 2012, asserting claims for violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that Inv. Peglow and Inv. Crough failed to (1) adequately interview witnesses; (2) explore the possibility of other perpetrators; and (3) investigate the discrepancies between the Complainant's version of the story and other contradictory evidence. Specifically, he claims that the investigators taped an interview with Plaintiff without Plaintiff's knowledge, and withheld information about the date of the alleged rape. Plaintiff points out that Invs. Peglow and Crough failed to notice during their investigation that the shed in which the rape allegedly occurred could not be locked from the inside, undermining the victim's version of events. Moreover, the investigators failed to discover that the Yacht Club had a long-standing policy of prohibiting indoor locks on the shed doors. Complaint, ¶¶ 45-46. In addition, Plaintiff passed a polygraph test and was refused a second test by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department. Id., ¶ 57. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Invs. Peglow and Crough did not exercise their responsibility to fully assess the reliability of the complainant given her history of mental illness and psychosis prior to the alleged rape and failed to fully assess the conflicting statements by the Complainant in her diary and her allegations.

The complaint alleges that ADA Karle violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by reneging on a bail agreement that she had made with defense counsel resulting in his confinement in the Monroe County Jail from June 20 to June 21, 2012, until his wife posted bail. Complaint, ¶¶ 70-72. He was not released, and instead was transported to Rochester General Hospital by Monroe County Sheriff's deputies against his will for a psychological evaluation. Complaint, ¶¶ 71-77. Plaintiff claims that the Monroe County Sheriff's Department failed to inform him of his right to refuse a psychiatric examination after he had posted bail. Id., ¶ 89.

During the week of August 18, 2008, an indictment was returned against Bastuk which he claims was the product of fraud and perjury. He also claims that the indictment was tainted due to the suppression of material evidence by the Sheriff and the DA's office. The complaint alleges that ADA Karle failed to turn over exculpatory material to Plaintiff as required by Brady v. Maryland , 373 U.S. 83 (1963) ("Brady"). That evidence included the Complainant's diary entries, her pre-incident medical records, and the negative results of the lab tests on her underwear. Complaint ¶¶ 90, 92, 93. Plaintiff contends that ADA Karle's failure to turn over this information caused a months-long delay in the trial. Plaintiff asserts that the Brady material was not turned over until, shortly before the trial, the judge ordered the disclosures. Complaint, ¶¶ 99, 102, 121-123.

Plaintiff also alleges that ADA Karle failed to have a critical witness interviewed as part of her investigation. In an August 30, 2007 diary entry, the complainant anticipated that she would be raped the evening of September 5, 2007, because she had a dream about her history and religion teacher raping her. Complaint, ¶¶ 124-125. ADA Karle did not have this teacher interviewed. Plaintiff also claims that ADA Karle maliciously prosecuted him despite the fact he had an alibi for the time-period during which the rape allegedly occurred. Id., ¶ 112.

As to DA Green, Plaintiff alleges that he had actual or constructive knowledge of the misconduct of the ADA and took no steps or grossly inadequate steps to train or supervise the assistant district attorneys in his office thereby actually or constructively condoning, facilitating, and encouraging unconstitutional practices. Id., ¶ 130. Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges that the DA's office had a custom, policy, pattern and practice of bad faith withholding of access to evidence within the custody of the Sheriff's Department and in the control of the DA's office. Id., ¶ 131.

As to the Sheriff's Department, Plaintiff alleges that it had a "custom, policy or pattern and practice of failing to adequately investigate leads, of pressuring witnesses to make false identifications, and to withhold material exculpatory and impeachment evidence from prosecutors." Complaint, ¶ 132. Plaintiff further alleges that there were "many cases" involving these unlawful practices and that the County has "done nothing to rectify the illegal investigative practices of its investigators." Id., ¶ 133. Plaintiff further alleges that the City had a custom or policy of failing to train or supervise its officers with respect to rape investigation techniques, including "pressuring witnesses to make false identifications, falsifying inculpatory evidence, " and other matters. Id., ¶ 134.

Based on these allegations, Plaintiff asserts five causes of action: (1) the deprivation of Plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from malicious prosecution, false arrest and false imprisonment; (2) the deprivation of Plaintiff's 14th Amendment right of due process of law by withholding material exculpatory and impeachment evidence, coercion and deliberately failing to conduct a constitutionally adequate investigation; (3) a civil rights conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizures, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and deprivation of liberty without due process of law; (4) ...


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