A former University of Tennessee graduate student received the go-ahead from the Georgia Supreme Court to sue Agnes Scott College campus officers who had her arrested on false sexual assault charges.
In 2009, Amanda Hartley was accused of a brutal sexual assault by an Agnes Scott College female student who said, among other things, Hartley raped her with a “4 Hour” energy drink bottle, a toothbrush and a cleaning brush, according to a press release from the state Supreme Court.
Hartley was not even at Agnes Scott at the time of the alleged assault and she claims in her lawsuit against the college and its campus officers failed to conduct an investigation into the alleged rape. She was incarcerated for three weeks, kept in isolation, beaten by other inmates and endured body cavity searchers by guards while in jail, Hartley also states in her lawsuit.
“With today’s ruling, written by Justice David Nahmias, the high court has reversed a Georgia Court of Appeals decision dismissing the woman’s lawsuit and determined that the officers are not protected by immunity under the Georgia Tort Claims Act because they were not acting for a ‘state government entity’ when they committed the alleged wrongdoing,” states today’s release from the state Supreme Court.
Also from the release:
Gaetano Antinozzi, a campus police officer for Agnes Scott, transported the young woman to DeKalb Medical Center for a physical examination. Two days later, on April 30, 2009, Antinozzi sought and received from a DeKalb County magistrate judge warrants for Hartley’s arrest on charges of aggravated sexual battery, sexual battery, and simple battery. Antinozzi contacted the Knoxville Police Department which resulted in Hartley’s arrest in Tennessee and her extradition to DeKalb County.
She was incarcerated for more than three weeks and, as a result, missed and failed her final exams at the University of Tennessee, according to the briefs. She was expelled from the program and lost her scholarship and grant funds. At a subsequent hearing, Antinozzi reiterated the charges made by the Agnes Scott student but produced no witnesses or physical evidence. The examination at DeKalb Medical had revealed no evidence of trauma or bruising. After Hartley presented evidence showing she was not in Georgia at the time of the alleged offenses, the district attorney refused to present the case to the grand jury and dropped all charges against Hartley.
Hartley sued Agnes Scott College and three campus police officers, including Antinozzi. She alleged in her complaint that the officers failed to make a reasonable effort to corroborate or investigate the student’s allegations. Had they conducted a “reasonable investigation,” she alleged, they would have discovered she was in Knoxville at the time in question, that the dorm logs showed she had never been in the student’s dorm, and that no independent witnesses could testify they had ever seen Hartley there. Hartley asserted in her complaint that all three campus officers were acting within the scope of their employment as members of Agnes Scott’s Department of Public Safety; that they had breached their legal duty not to falsely arrest or imprison her; that they intentionally caused her emotional distress; and that she was entitled to recover punitive damages. Agnes Scott and the officers filed motions to dismiss Hartley’s lawsuit on the ground that the campus police were law enforcement officers who were immune from liability.