Wrongly Accused and Double-Crossed, Former Hot-to-Trot Teach Sues Prosecutor

Ohio – www.local12.com – A former Dayton High School English teacher, tried and acquitted of having sex with a student, is now suing the Kenton County Prosecutor in Federal Court. Nicole Howell and her attorney Eric Deters filed the lawsuit today against Rob Sanders.

“After thinking about it, deliberating and actually going over everything that happened….this is not about me any more, this is about other people that this may happen to.”

Howell was acquitted of charges after a trial in October in which her teen accuser claimed the two had sex several times at Howell’s apartment. A jury cleared Howell of all allegations.

In the lawsuit, Howell claims she was invited to police department in January of 2009 to take a polygraph test. Her attorney at the time was told that if Howell passed the polygraph, she would be cleared of charges. The suit claims that when Howell showed up for the test, Sanders ordered the police to arrest her without the polygraph. “They called Rob Sanders and asked what they should do about the polygraph. They told him about the situation and he said, “I don’t care whether she takes a polygraph or not or whether she passes it or not. I could care less…arrest her.”

Eric Deters is Howell’s attorney: “It’s our belief that they knew that this was a bad case. They had credibility issues with the minor and they knew when they arrested her her life would be destroyed and it was.”

Howell was then fired from her teaching job. The suit claims Sanders violated her civil rights, engaged in malicious prosecution, violated Howell’s right to due process and inflicted emotional distress.

Deters says Howell hasn’t had any calls about teaching jobs and has lost her good name because of the trial. “I haven’t had any teaching offers…it’s not like the school offered me my job back. I don’t have that path any more and I don’t want that to happen to anybody else.”

Howell also plans to sue the Dayton School District.

The lawsuit asks for compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees, but in no specified amount.

Late Wednesday, Rob Sanders issued a three page written statement on the lawsuit which says, in part: ” The lawsuit filed today on behalf of Nicole Howell is baseless, without merit, and not supported by law. It just goes to show that anyone can be sued for anything; even just doing your job… Prosecutors are protected by absolute immunity for good reason. Our criminal justice system will fail if defense attorneys are allowed to intimidate and extort prosecutors by suing anytime a jury returns a verdict of “not guilty.”… A judge determined that there was probable cause to arrest Ms. Howell when the arrest warrant was signed. At the preliminary hearing-, Judge Ken Easterling ruled there was probable cause to send the case to the grand jury. Twelve citizens of Kenton County agreed that there was probable cause to issue and indictment. And at trial, the Judge Gregory Bartlett overruled the defense motion for a directed verdict, twice. Both times, the judge found that there was sufficient evidence to send the case to the jury.

This case has never been about “Rob Sanders.” I have declined dozens of media requests for interviews. I am not the one who called press conferences and went on talk shows in a never ending attempt to get my face on television. In fact, this is the first press release issued by me or my office related to this case. The student involved in this case made a detailed statement alleging an affair with Ms. Howell. He provided details about Ms. Howell’s tattoos, could draw an accurate diagram of her apartment. He described details such as her furniture and a skylight that he could only have known if he was in the apartment.

In about a month’s time, there were 798 text messages between Ms. Howell and the student. Of those 798, Ms. Howell sent the teen 430 text messages at all hours of the day 1 including during school, and as late as 3 o’clock in the morning.

Despite claims made to the media. Ms. Howell admitted to police that the texts were sexual in nature. The defense claimed that 430 messages do not add up to a relationship but during the same time frame, she sent only 512 to her boyfriend. Ms. Howell also called the student 14 times in the same month. She claimed those calls were in response to the student’s calls but phone records show he only called her 11 times. The student said he went to BW3’s with Ms. Howell but left in a hurry after seeing his football coach. Bank and business records prove that the coach dined at the same restaurant at the same time. The student said they then ordered pizza delivery to Ms. Howell’s apartment. Papa John’s confirmed that the order matching the one he described was delivered on the exact same date. During the times the student said he was with Ms. Howell, there was no texting between them but the texting resumed as soon as they parted company. An independent witness, with no motivation to lie, stated that he dropped the student off near Ms. Howell’s apartment and picked him up the next day.

The bottom line is there was plenty of evidence to corroborate the student’s details of the events before and after the sex. With so much to say the student’s claims were true, we had no reason to believe the claims of sex were false. Sex crimes are not like bank robberies. They typically do not take place on security camera or in front of a room full of witnesses.

If prosecutors ignored cases like this, few, if any sex crimes would ever get prosecuted. This jury made its decision and I respect it but that does not mean there was no evidence or that the prosecution was malicious. I think any parent who’s child provided a similar detailed account, that was corroborated in so many ways. would want us to give their child’s case its’ day in court too.

I don’t regret giving this boy his day in court and I will continue to work hard protecting child victims in the future.”

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