Pennsylvania Record

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Court dismisses lawsuit against Philadelphia detective regarding sexual assault arrest

Federal Court

By Charmaine Little | Jul 10, 2019

Philadelphia federal courthouse

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Philadelphia recently dismissed a malicious prosecution lawsuit filed against a Philadelphia police detective by a man who had spent 13 months in jail before sexual assault charges against him were dropped.

In the court's June 20 ruling, U.S. District Judge Timothy A. Savage granted a motion for summary judgment in the lawsuit filed by Aaron McCoy against Detective Keenya Taylor. 

Court filings said the victim of the alleged assault identified McCoy as her attacker. Taylor issued an affidavit of probable cause that led to McCoy being arrested and charged. The charges against McCoy were dropped after the alleged victim did not show up at trial. McCoy then sued Taylor, claiming she submitted the affidavit in malicious pretense. 

Taylor filed the motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming there was probable cause when she filled out the affidavit, there was no malice and she has qualified immunity, court filings said.

The court granted Taylor’s motion, noting that McCoy was unable to satisfy one of the requirements to properly plead a Fourth Amendment complaint: that the proceeding was initiated without probable cause.

“The undisputed facts show that probable cause existed to arrest McCoy,” the court said, adding that it is up for a jury to determine if probable cause was present and if the jury was unable to determine that probable cause did not exist, Taylor would be granted summary judgment

In dismissing McCoy's suit, the court said an arrest warrant in itself is sufficient probable cause. 

The court said, “McCoy does not claim that the affidavit, on its face, failed to establish probable cause. Instead, he claims that (the alleged victim's) credibility would have been undermined by including in the affidavit the discrepancies regarding her injuries, pregnancy and sexual history.” 

The court said McCoy's suit does not detail how the inconsistencies prove the alleged victim lied about the assault, especially concerning McCoy’s involvement. “Although these facts may have had a bearing on (the alleged victim's) credibility, her account made out probable cause that McCoy had raped and sexually assaulted her,” the court said, noting that the alleged victim told Taylor that McCoy was the one who assaulted her and the inconsistencies of the details are not enough to rule out probable cause against McCoy.

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