Canfield girl, 11, falsely accused of rape, suit says
By Peter H. Milliken
A Canfield couple has sued the city of Canfield and some of its police officers and brass and an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor for at least $5 million in federal court, saying their 11-year daughter was maliciously prosecuted and falsely imprisoned on rape charges, of which she was later acquitted.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court by Michael and Renee Rubesich, of Willow Bend Drive, against Anissa Modarelli, an assistant county prosecutor assigned to juvenile court; Canfield Police Chief Chuck Colucci, Detective Brian McGivern, Sgt. Scott Weamer and officers Timothy Lamping and Lea Byers; the city of Canfield; and 20 John Doe defendants who the suit says are police officers, detectives, supervisors, in-charge officers or commanders.
“We’ll review the complaint and take whatever action is appropriate,” said county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, adding that he hadn’t seen the lawsuit. “It’s pending litigation. I’m not going to comment” further, Gains said.
Colucci said he was aware of the suit, but added that the department had not been served with the documents so he could not comment.
None of the other named defendants could be reached to comment at the Canfield Police Department Tuesday evening.
The charges arose when “a well-connected political player” told former Canfield Police Chief David Blystone on April 16, 2012, that his daughter and two other 11-year-old girls said they were raped by the plaintiffs’ daughter; and Blystone told Colucci, who “applied political pressure” on McGivern to pursue the case, the lawsuit says.
“Defendants knowingly prosecuted an innocent person,” and violated her constitutional rights, according to the lawsuit filed by Attys. Steven M. and J. Michael Goldberg of Solon and Atty. Robert F. DiCello of Mentor.
McGivern told Modarelli that he didn’t believe the allegations, but Modarelli advised McGivern to custodially interrogate and arrest the plaintiffs’ daughter “even if she denied the allegations and they had no other evidence supporting her arrest,” the lawsuit says.
On April 20, 2012, the officers questioned the Rubesiches’ daughter for about five hours without food, water or rest as she was falling asleep on her mother’s lap, despite her consistent denial of the charges, and jailed her on multiple rape counts without probable cause through April 24, 2012, the suit says.
The plaintiffs’ daughter was tried by Magistrate Richard White of Mahoning County Juvenile Court, who acquitted her of all 12 rape counts, one attempted rape count and two counts of gross sexual imposition in the 15-count delinquency complaint.
Magistrate White presided over the trial on Aug. 7 and 10, 2012; the prosecution objected to the acquittal; and Judge Theresa Dellick upheld Magistrate White’s verdict on Oct. 31, 2012.
One of the accusers recanted and gave officers information “that showed the three accusers conspired to fabricate their allegation,” the suit says.
The city of Canfield purportedly failed to properly train its officers in juvenile sex-crime investigations, the suit says.
“Plaintiffs have been psychically harmed and require on-going psychiatric care as a result of defendants’ actions,” the lawsuit adds.
The complaint demands a jury trial.