JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CN) - Two drunken Jersey City police detectives and the mayor's son beat a man so badly he suffers from seizures, developed a brain tumor and lost his job, the man claims in court.
Hector Mejias sued the Jersey City, Healy's Tavern, Jeremiah Healy Jr., the Jersey City Police Department, several police officers and Dets. Chris Heger and Mark D'Ambrosio, in Hudson County Superior Court.
Mejias claims he was driving past Healy's Tavern on Sep. 29, 2012 when he saw three men beating a man in the middle of the street. He says in the lawsuit that all three men "appeared to be highly intoxicated."
Defendant Healy, the mayor's son, owns and operates Healy's Tavern, Mejias says in the July 16 complaint.
Mejias claims that he stopped, told the assailants they would kill the man unless they stopped, and that he was going to call the police on his cell phone, when "the men identified themselves as police."
The lawsuit continues: "The three men then started to approach plaintiff aggressively and appeared to be highly intoxicated.
"As the men were approaching plaintiff, plaintiff attempted to flee by getting into his vehicle.
"When plaintiff entered his vehicle, the three men opened the car door and started punching plaintiff violently in the head.
"In self-defense, plaintiff bit the hand of one of the assailants.
"Although plaintiff was able to bite the hand of one of his assailants, plaintiff was forcibly removed from the vehicle whereby the three individuals continued to beat him and kick him violently."
Mejias says police arrived soon and arrested him on a charge of aggravated assault, though the men who beat him and the other man were not arrested or charged.
"From police reports and media articles, plaintiff learned that the three individuals who beat him were Jeremiah Healy, the son of the mayor of Jersey City and the owner of Healy's Tavern, Detective Chris Heger and Detective Mark D'Ambrosio," the complaint states.
Mejias claims that the police defendants covered up the incident by filing false reports.
A grand jury found that the officers had no probable cause to arrest Mejias, according to the complaint.
Mejias says he suffered permanent brain damage from the beating, now suffers from seizures and has developed a brain tumor that will require surgery.
He says he is "permanently disabled and cannot function without numerous medications to control his seizures and other ailments that did not exist prior to the beating."
Mejias says that before the beating he was commercial truck driver, but because of his brain injury and seizures and the need to take medication, his commercial driver's license was revoked.
He seeks punitive damages for constitutional violations, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
He is represented by Mario Blanch of West New York, N.J.
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (CN) - A Catholic parish fired a social-work director after a newspaper article revealed her sexual orientation, though the church knew she was gay when it hired her, she claims in court.
Colleen Simon sued the Most Rev. Robert W. Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, on July 17, in Jackson County Court.
Simon, described in the lawsuit as "a proud mother of two sons ... a lesbian and ... the proud wife of Rev. Donna Simon," says she was hired by St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church as its Director of Social Ministry in May 2013.
The plaintiff and Donna Simon were married in Iowa, as same-sex marriages are illegal in Missouri.
Simon claims she revealed her sexual orientation to the church even before submitting her application, and that the Director of Religious Education told her: "'Go ahead and apply. I've spoken to [the first pastor] and it won't be a problem.'" (Brackets in complaint.)
During a face-to-face interview, Simon says, she told the first pastor that she and her wife were "well known in the community, and were known to be an open, out, married couple in the community."
"The first pastor was nonplussed, and expressed no objection to Ms. Simon's sexual orientation or her relationship with Donna," according to the complaint.
In January 2014, after the pastor who had interviewed her moved away, Simon says she revealed her sexual orientation to the new pastor of St. Francis Xavier, who "looked surprised. He said 'Oh, okay. It's okay.'"
A reporter from the Kansas City Star approached Simon in April 2014 to discuss her work in the Troost Corridor area of the city. She says she "directed the reporter to the new Pastor, who then directed the reporter back to Simon."
"Ms. Simon spoke with the reporter about her work at the food pantry. The reporter also spoke with Ms. Simon's wife, Donna Simon, about her anti-poverty work on Troost."
The lawsuit continues: "On Wednesday, April 30, 2014, an article in the Kansas City Star's 816 Magazine by the reporter titled, 'Trusting in Troost,' came out. It discussed many of the people involved in community activism and human development issues in the Troost corridor. It mentioned Colleen Simon as Donna Simon's spouse. The story featured a photo of Colleen working in the food pantry. The caption reads: 'Colleen Simon, pastoral associate for justice and life at St. Francis Xavier, is married to Donna Simon, the pastor at St. Mark.' [sic] 'Colleen Simon works at St. Francis Xavier's food pantry helping families in the neighborhood get enough to eat.'"
Simon says the pastor of St. Francis Xavier emailed her, expressing concern about the information in the article, and also called the reporter and "asked [her] if she was a Catholic, and when the reporter answered that she was not, the new pastor stated to her that she didn't know what she had done."
The pastor called Simon to a meeting on May 9, 2014, and "informed Ms. Simon that the Bishop's office had contacted him by phone and then followed up with a letter after having received a copy of the reporter's article in the mail.
"The new pastor stated that now that Ms. Simon's marital status was public, he had no choice but to ask her to submit a letter of resignation," the complaint states.
"After that, Ms. Simon asked the new pastor if she could continue to perform the technical aspects of her position, such as data entry and food collection and distribution for the pantry. The new pastor said that would not be possible. The meeting adjourned and Ms. Simon had the weekend to consider whether to resign or be terminated. She returned to work the next week."
Upon returning to work, Simon says, she was allowed to continue her job until Wednesday, May 14 - the date of several shipments for the food pantry - and was then fired.
Despite knowing her marital status upon hiring her, Simon says her termination letter stated: "The reason for your involuntary separation of employment was based upon an irreconcilable conflict between the laws, discipline, and teaching of the Catholic Church and your relationship - formalized by an act of marriage in Iowa - to a person of the same sex."
Simon seeks compensatory and punitive damages for fraud and violations of the Missouri Service Letter Law, as her termination letter mentioned nothing about deficiencies in job performance.
She is represented by Edward E. Keenan in Kansas City.
An Alabama jail guard raped an inmate repeatedly, and the female warden told her there was nothing she could do about it - but put her on birth control, the woman claims in court.
Olivia Osborne, who was sent to the Birmingham Work Release Center in January 2011, sued her alleged rapist, Vincent Cheatham, warden Shirley Smith and Alabama Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas, in Federal Court.
Within two weeks of her arrival, Osborne claims, Cheatham began watching her shower, making her cook him meals and forcing her to go on van rides.
In May 2011, the behavior escalated to assault, when Cheatham "shoved plaintiff against a meat freezer, sexually groped plaintiff and tried to kiss her. Plaintiff sustained a bruised back during the attack," the complaint states.
"On May 7, 2011, while in the upstairs TV room of the Birmingham Work Release Center, defendant Cheatham forcefully attempted to take off plaintiff's pants with one hand and had a condom in the other hand. Fortunately, another inmate, Shaina Pouncey walked in and defendant Cheatham stopped his assault."
Osborne says when she filed a report about the two attacks, prison officials changed it to say that Cheatham only tried to kiss her.
Warden Smith transferred Cheatham to another facility to try to cover up the assaults, Osborne says in the lawsuit.
But six weeks later, while working at a hotel as part of her program, Osborne says she "ended her shift by locking the pool and taking garbage out to a gated Dumpster. As plaintiff entered the gated fence where the Dumpster was located, defendant Cheatham drove a blue Trailblazer in front of the gate to block her exit. Defendant Cheatham grabbed plaintiff, put her in his back seat, tore her Best Western shirt and forced her khaki pants off. He then proceeded to brutally rape plaintiff through intercourse and sodomy. Plaintiff received bruises on her chest and arms. When defendant Cheatham was done raping plaintiff, he repeatedly said, 'Just relax, that wasn't so bad,' and 'Once you go black, you won't go back.'"
The complaint continues: For the next four months defendant Cheatham continued to harass plaintiff even though he was transferred to another facility. Aware of the harassment, on October 6, 2011, defendant Smith ordered plaintiff to be placed on birth control. Plaintiff was told that she was placed on birth control for irregular periods. However, plaintiff has never suffered from irregular periods and never asked to be placed on birth control. After plaintiff explained that to defendant Smith, the warden told plaintiff that she was actually put on birth control to prevent a pregnancy from occurring."
The harassment continued, and Warden Smith eventually decided to put Osborne on birth control, telling her it was to correct "irregular periods."
Osborne claims Cheatham raped her again in October when he showed up at her workplace and brought her a pineapple mango smoothie form McDonald's.
She told Cheatham to leave, and he asked for a glass of water, Osborne says in the lawsuit. She claims that when she went to get it, "defendant Cheatham rushed into the kitchen behind her. He threw the plaintiff against the kitchen wall, presses [sic] his forearm against her neck, and proceeded to remove her clothes and rape plaintiff through intercourse. After defendant Cheatham was done raping plaintiff, he grabbed a macadamia nut cookie and walked out."
Osborne reported the rape to a jail lieutenant and to warden Smith, but "defendant Smith told plaintiff that nothing could be done," according to the complaint.
Cheatham continued to assault and harass her until July 2012, and raped her again in that span, she says in the lawsuit.
She seeks compensatory and punitive damages for assault and battery, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, sexual harassment and deliberate indifference.
She is represented by Leroy Maxwell Jr. of the Revill Law Firm in Birmingham.
After Youth Minister Charged With Sex Offense, Church Vows to Protect Kids With ... First Aid Course?
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (CN) - After a youth minister was charged with sex offenses, a Baptist church promised to protect its children, but all it did was offer an optional first aid course, and a second employee sexually abused another child, the family claims in court.
Parents John and Jane Doe sued Spring Creek Baptist Church on behalf of their minor daughter Janie, in Montgomery County Court. The church itself is the only defendant.
"In 2009, a youth minister at Spring Creek was criminally charged with having sexual contact with minors in Spring Creek's youth groups. The youth minister resigned voluntarily," the complaint states.
"Afterwards, at least one member of Spring Creek communicated to Senior Pastor Paul Bunger that Spring Creek should adopt policies for protecting children in its care.
"Spring Creek adopted no policies for protecting children other than offering a first aid course for Sunday School teachers on a voluntary basis."
That was inadequate, the Does say.
The complaint continues: "Multiple members warned Senior Pastor Bunger and other church leaders that a man, Christopher Ryan Crossno ('Crossno'), was behaving inappropriately toward young children in Spring Creek's Sunday School programs.
"One Spring Creek employee observed Crossno in a Sunday School classroom reaching to put his hand up a young girl's dress. The employee stopped Crossno before it went further.
"A concerned parent told Senior Pastor Bunger and other church leaders that Crossno was making a young girl in a Sunday School classroom uncomfortable by tickling her.
"One Spring Creek member communicated to Senior Pastor Bunger that Crossno's behavior was characteristic of a pedophile and that Spring Creek should take steps to keep him away from children.
"Spring Creek did not prevent Crossno from having access to the children in Spring Creek's Sunday School program.
"Instead, for the Fall 2012 - Spring 2013 term, Spring Creek named Crossno as one of the teachers of its first grade Sunday School class.
"Janie Doe was a student in Spring Creek's first grade Sunday School class in fall 2012.
"During class on November 18, 2012, Crossno sexually abused Janie Doe in the Sunday School classroom."
The family seeks punitive damages for negligence and recklessness.
"Spring Creek's knowledge based on the prior charges against its youth minister regarding sex with minors, and the warnings Spring Creek had received regarding Crossno, Spring Creek's conduct constitutes recklessness," the complaint states.
The family is represented by Brandon Bass with the Law Offices of John Day in Brentwood, Tenn.
Priest Sexually Assaults Woman, Tells Detectives He Can't Talk About It Because It Happened at Confession
PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A priest sexually assaulted a woman he asked to see him for "counseling," then "smeared her menstrual blood on her face," and when the church found out it sent him to Poland, the woman claims in court.
Jane Doe and her husband sued the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa and Father Marek Lacki, in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
The Does claim that while they were volunteering at a church retreat, "defendant Lacki met with plaintiffs at Our Lady of Czestochowa to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Defendant Lacki encouraged plaintiffs to drink alcohol with him and to discuss any marital difficulties they were having. He was very charming and encouraged them to be open with him.
"Plaintiffs trusted defendant Lacki to act in their best interests and shared their marital challenges with defendant Lacki, who was particularly interested in learning about their sex life.
"Plaintiff Jane Doe was a victim of child sex abuse and told Lacki about the abuse she suffered. He also encouraged her to talk about her feelings of depression and difficulties dealing with sex after having given birth to 9 children, and several miscarriages.
"Following the retreat, Lacki insisted that plaintiff Jane Doe come to Our Lady of Czestochowa to visit him for 'counseling.' Plaintiff Jane Doe traveled to Our Lady of Czestochowa to obtain counseling, because she was seeking a spiritual counselor to aid her in her ongoing recovery from the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. He insisted that she come to a private room to pray and talk.
"On March 26, 2012, at Our Lady of Czestochowa, in a private room, defendant Lacki sexually abused and assaulted the plaintiff without her consent and against her will. He did so by grooming her, and then using physical, intellectual, moral, emotional and psychological force. Defendant invited plaintiff to meet with him individually and insisted plaintiff come to a private room alone, where Lacki isolated the plaintiff and began forced unsolicited sexual assault and abuse against plaintiff. Despite repeated attempts by plaintiff to ward off the assaults, it progressed to Lacki's forcible digital rape of plaintiff after which he smeared her menstrual blood on her face."
The Does claim they reported the assault to the Archdiocese, which notified the Bucks County District Attorney's Office.
"However, when asked by detectives to be interviewed regarding the rape, defendant Lacki responded that it was under the seal of confession and, therefore, he declined to speak to the police. The Bucks County District Attorney's Office accepted this answer and did not pursue the case," the complaint states.
It continues: "Furthermore, immediately following the District Attorney's failure to act, which provided an opportunity for Lacki to leave the jurisdiction, Lacki was removed from Our Lady of Czestochowa, and based upon information and belief, returned by the Pauline Fathers to Poland to further avoid both criminal and civil actions against Lacki and the other defendants."
The Does claim that "the Archdiocese, Our Lady of Czestochowa and the Pauline Fathers each concealed the knowledge that Lacki had deviate sexual interests, and each has a long history of concealing sexual abuse by its clergy.
"Upon information and belief, neither Our Lady of Czestochowa, nor the Archdiocese, nor the Pauline Fathers, forbade or limited the amount of time that un-chaperoned women could spend with priests in private rooms."
They seek punitive damages for sexual assault, vicarious liability and negligence.
They are represented by Daniel Monahan of Malvern, Pa