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Osborne v. Georgiades

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 11, 2017

ANGELLO A.D. OSBORNE, Plaintiff,
v.
CORPORAL PETER GEORGIADES, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Angello Osborne (“plaintiff” or “Osborne”) has filed this action against defendant Corporal Peter Georgiades (“defendant” or “Georgiades”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging civil rights violations during Georgiades' investigation and referral of charges against Osborne based on allegations that Osborne had sexually assaulted his five-year old daughter (“JMLO”). (ECF No. 1.) Specifically, Osborne alleges that he was arrested without probable cause as a result of certain material omissions by Georgiades in his January 2011 arrest warrant application. (Id.) While Osborne was held in pretrial custody for over eight months, the charges against him were ultimately placed on the ‘stet' docket by the State's Attorney for Harford County, Maryland in December 2011.[1] (Id.)

         This Court previously denied Georgiades' first Motion for Summary Judgment based on his assertion of qualified immunity from suit. (ECF Nos. 49, 50.) Following an affirmance of this Court's prior decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, a trial was scheduled to begin in this Court on September 18, 2017. (ECF No. 64.)

         Now pending before this Court is defendant Corporal Georgiades' Second Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 71). The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and a hearing was conducted on September 6, 2017. For the reasons stated below, defendant Corporal Peter Georgiades's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 42) is GRANTED, and summary judgment shall be ENTERED in his favor.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Osborne filed his Complaint in this Court on January 23, 2014 against defendant Corporal Peter Georgiades, social worker Dione White, and Meredith Lynn Pipitone, the mother of JMLO. (ECF No. 1.) Defendant Georgiades and former defendant White filed motions to dismiss, and by Memorandum Opinion and Order dated January 20, 2015, this Court dismissed plaintiff's claims against White, dismissed Osborne's § 1985 claim (Count II), but permitted Osborne to pursue his § 1983 claim (Count I) against defendant Georgiades. (ECF Nos. 19, 20.) By subsequent Memorandum Opinion and Order dated June 4, 2015, this Court granted former defendant Meredith Lynn Pipitone's motion for judgment on the pleadings, and dismissed her from this action. (ECF Nos. 37, 38.)

         Following the close of discovery, defendant Georgiades filed his first Motion for Summary Judgment, asserting that he was entitled to qualified immunity from suit. (ECF No. 42.) By Memorandum Opinion and Order dated October 23, 2015, this Court denied Georgiades' motion and directed that this case should proceed to trial on the question of whether Georgiades, acting under color of law, violated Osborne's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (ECF Nos. 49, 50.) Trial was scheduled to begin on January 11, 2016. (Id.)

         On November 18, 2015, Georgiades noted an appeal of this Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order denying his first Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 51.) This Court then entered an order staying the trial of this case pending Georgiades' appeal. (ECF No. 55.) By Opinion and Judgment dated Febraury 8, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed this Court's judgment denying Georgiades' motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. (ECF No. 60.) Osborne v. Georgiades, 679 F. App'x 234, 236 (4th Cir. 2017). The Fourth Circuit's Mandate took effect on March 2, 2017. (ECF No. 62.)

         A Revised Scheduling Order was issued on March 9, 2017, setting a three-day jury trial to begin on Monday, September 18, 2017. (ECF No. 64.) Georgiades filed his now-pending Second Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 71) on July 28, 2017, and this Court conducted a hearing on Defendant's Motion on September 6, 2017. (ECF No. 78.)

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The pertinent factual background is set forth in this Court's Memorandum Opinion dated October 23, 2015 (ECF No. 49) and repeated herein for ease of reference. Osborne v. Georgiades, RDB-14-182, 2015 WL 6447503 (D. Md. Oct. 23, 2015), aff'd, 679 F. App'x 234 (4th Cir. 2017).[2]

Osborne and Pipitone are the parents of two minor children-a daughter (“JMLO”), aged five years at the time of the events in question, and a son (“CJP”), aged two years. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 1, 3, ECF No. 42-3 (Children & Family Services Intake Worksheet). On November 1, 2010, Pipitone contacted the Harford County Child Advocacy Center to report the alleged sexual assault of JMLO. See Id. Pipitone claimed that JMLO did not want to spend Halloween with her father, with whom JMLO allegedly “d[id] not have a good relationship.” Id. JMLO purportedly told Pipitone that, several weeks prior, Osborne had “put his penis on her vagina” when she was asleep. Id.
The same day, White, a licensed social worker for the Harford County Child Advocacy Center, interviewed Pipitone.[3] Pipitone allegedly acted “in a manner that would cause [Corporal Georgiades and White] to be sympathetic to her and biased against” Plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 9, ECF No. 1. Following the meeting with Pipitone, White questioned JMLO regarding her mother's statements. Georgiades was not present, instead observing the interview from an adjoining room via a live video feed. White Dep. 29:9-20, ECF No. 42-5. Corporal Georgiades observed the interview for purposes of investigating the allegations. Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n Ex. 3, 4:2-6, 6:24-7:4 (Circuit Court for Harford County, Maryland Motions Hearing Tr., June 21, 2011). Throughout the interview, Georgiades remained in telephone contact with White. Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n Ex. 2, 32:11-33:12 (Circuit Court for Harford County, Maryland Motions Hearing Tr., June 20, 2011).[4] Corporal Georgiades and White spoke at least three times, see Id. 32:9-33:25, but White stated that she did not recall the content of their conversations. Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n Ex. 3, 29:13-20.
White employed the “Rapport, Anatomical Identification, Touch Inquiry, Abuse Scenario, Closure (“RATAC”) method when questioning JMLO. White Dep. 24:21; 25:1-4. RATAC focuses on reducing any potential trauma to the child during the interview. Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n Ex. 3, 12:5-8. In response to White's interrogation, JMLO consistently denied that Osborne, or anyone, had touched her on parts of her body covered by a bathing suit. Id. 15:1-15. JMLO also denied that anyone had asked or forced her “to touch their privates with their penis, ” id. 15:13-20; that she had told her mother that someone attempted to touch her, id. 17:5-7; and that she had told her mother that “somebody put their penis in your private, ” id. 17:16-20. In total, JMLO denied abuse six different times. Id. 17:21-18:3.
Despite the repeated refutations, JMLO then changed course, describing instances in which Osborne “took his pants off and he got his penis and put it on [her] vagina and then he pressed it really bad and then it hurt.” Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 3, 12, ECF No. 42-6 (JMLO Interview). JMLO also stated that Osborne had used his foot in the same manner. Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n Ex. 3, 29:6-8. After this statement, Corporal Georgiades and White terminated the interview. Id. 29:21-30:8. Osborne claims that White, with Corporal Georgiades's guidance, constructed questions “that were unduly suggestive and leading in nature[, ] . . . designed and intended to cajole the minor child into making up a story to support” Pipitone's accusations. Compl. ¶ 13.
After White completed her examination of the minor child, Pipitone called Osborne to accuse him of sexually assaulting their daughter. See Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n Ex. 5 (Osborne-Pipitone Telephone Tr.) With Pipitone's consent, Corporal Georgiades listened in on the call to Plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 15. During the telephone conversation, Osborne consistently denied Pipitone's accusations. See Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n Ex. 5.
Dr. Paul Lomonico (“Dr. Lomonico”) examined JMLO on November 3, 2010 for evidence of sexual assault. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 4, ECF No. 42-7 (Report of Dr. Lomonico); see also Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n Ex. 6 (Report of Dr. Lomonico). The alleged assault occurred on October 16, 2010. See Id. Dr. Lomonico found no physical evidence of sexual abuse, but noted that his findings “do[] not rule out abuse.” Id. In contrast, White concluded that sexual abuse was “indicated.” Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 5, 4, ECF No. 42-8 (Child Abuse Report).
On December 15, 2010, Corporal Georgiades met with Diane Tobin (“Tobin”), a Deputy State's Attorney for Harford County, Maryland. Tobin Aff., ECF No. 42-10. After reviewing the video of the JMLO interview, Tobin accepted the case for prosecution. Id. Corporal Georgiades attempted to contact Osborne, but was unsuccessful. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 6, ECF No. 42-9 (Corporal Georgiades Supplemental Report). Corporal Georgiades then applied for an arrest warrant on January 24, 2011. Corporal Georgiades Dep. 60:7-12, ECF No. 42-11; Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 9, ECF No. 42-12 (Application for Statement of Charges). Corporal Georgiades's affidavit disclosed only JMLO's accusations of sexual abuse, and not her repeated refutations, nor the results of any medical examination. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 9, at 3. An arrest warrant was issued and Plaintiff was arrested on the same day. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 10, 4, ECF No. 42-13.
Osborne was charged with eight counts of sexual assault-based offenses. See id., at 2-3 (Statement of Charges). On January 25, 2011, Osborne was detained in the Harford County Detention Center, with bail set for $500, 000. Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n Ex. 8 (Commitment Pending Hearing). A grand jury subsequently indicted Osborne on sixteen counts of sexual assault-related crimes. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 11 (Commitment Pending Hearing, Indictment). Osborne was incarcerated without bond for over eight months, until October 3, 2011, after which date a bond was set for $25, 000. Osborne Dep. 46:8-9, ECF No. 42-15. Finally, the Office of the State's Attorney for Harford County declined to prosecute Osborne on December 13, 2011, instead placing his case on the inactive “stet” docket. Osborne Dep. 37:8-21.

(ECF No. 49 at 2-6.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court “shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A material fact is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A genuine issue over a material fact exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. When considering a motion for summary ...


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