Canfield officials on Thursday denied allegations made in a $5 million lawsuit that they improperly pursued rape charges against an 11-year-old girl because of political connections even after they learned the accusations were false.
A statement from the city said police acted properly during the investigation and said statements in the lawsuit filed in U.S. Northern District Court in Youngstown attributed to police officers and other investigators were “completely fabricated.”
“In this case, it acted entirely in accordance with its obligations and with the utmost professionalism given the extremely sensitive nature of the case,” the statement says. “As such, the city will vigorously defend itself and its officers against these erroneous allegations.”
The parents of the 11-year-old girl filed the suit earlier this week.
The lawsuit said the girl fell asleep on her mother’s lap during a five-hour interrogation, that she was eventually charged with multiple counts of rape and was held in the Juvenile Detention Center on charges despite detectives believing the girl was innocent.
The charges were dismissed after one of the accusers, all 11 year olds, told police the group conspired to lie to get the girl in trouble.
The suit also names assistant Mahoning County prosecutor Anissa Modarelli, who handles juvenile criminal cases, detective Brian McGivern, officer Lea Byers, Sgt. Scott Weamer, the city and 20 other unnamed police officers.
The complaint says the girl is seeking damages because investigators violated illegal search and seizure laws, performed a malicious prosecution, abused their power, falsely imprisoned the girl, inflicted emotion distress and failed to provide police officers the necessary training to conduct juvenile sexual assault investigations.
“It should be noted, however, that statements in the complaint related to the conduct of members of the city’s police department appear to be completely fabricated and not based on reality or the actual facts surrounding the investigation in any measure,” the city’s statement said.