Yesterday, Ross Currier, a Boston man, was cleared of sexual assault charges in the North End. Suffolk County prosecutors entered a nolle prosequi, which resulted in the termination of the charges of assault and battery, which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in the House of Corrections, and indecent assault and battery, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in the House of Corrections, that Currier had been facing stemming from an incident that occurred on February 15, 2014.
On February 15, 2014, a woman told police that she was approached from behind earlier that morning outside her North End apartment by a man who then threw her to the ground, groped her body and private areas, and took a picture under her skirt with his cellphone. Police arrested Currier on March 10 after the same woman saw him in the neighborhood and told police officers that she was "90 to 95% positive" that he was the man who attacked her. Not only did Currier have an alibi, stating that he was at home with his fiancee at the time of the woman's attack, but the same woman had already previously misidentified another man as her attacker. The other man was incarcerated at the time of the attack and could not have possibly committed the crime.
District Attorney Daniel F. Conley's office said in a statement Wednesday that while prosecutors do believe the woman acted in good faith when she identified Currier, investigators later "developed evidence to suggest he was not the assailant." That evidence included a detailed review of Currier's alibi, a forensic investigation of his cellphone and an investigation of related cell tower location records.
Currier demanded an apology from authorities, who he said "put him and his family through an extremely difficult ordeal" by charging him with a heinous crime he did not commit."Someone needs to take responsibility for the mistakes that were made throughout this entire process," said Currier. He placed blame on "the lack of due diligence by the police and everyone along the way."
In a case like this, a dismissal of the case with prejudice would have been a better outcome for Currier than a nolle prosequi. A dismissal with prejudice would acknowledge that an innocent man had been wrongfully accused of the crime and the charges could never be brought against Currier again. Where as a nolle prosequi is a prosecutor's decision to voluntarily discontinue criminal charges and only shows that the prosecuting attorney is unwilling to pursue the case. It is an admission that the charges cannot be proven rather than an admission of the Defendant's innocence.
Though it may seem as though Currier has a slam dunk case against the police, it is not that simple. Police officers are protected by a doctrine called qualified immunity. Qualified immunity shields government officials from liability for the violation of an individual's federal rights provided to them by the U.S. Constitution.This grant of immunity is available to state or federal employees performing discretionary functions where their actions, even if found to be unlawful, did not violate "clearly established law." In this case, Currier would have to prove that the officers actions violated some clearly established law. He may have a tough time proving this especially because as of yet, there have been no reports of unlawful behavior by the police or a lack of compliance with police protocol.
If you have been charged with assault and battery, indecent assault and battery, or any other criminal offense in Massachusetts, contact my office immediately for your free initial consultation:
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