Judge dismisses several claims in suit alleging sexual assault by Slidell police officer

By William Sassani | Aug 9, 2018

NEW ORLEANS –The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently granted parts of several motions to dismiss claims against a Slidell police officer and the city's former police chief in tort suit regarding allegations of sexual assault.

NEW ORLEANS –The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently granted parts of several motions to dismiss claims against a Slidell police officer and the city's former police chief in tort suit regarding allegations of sexual assault.

In their suit filed April 26, 2017, plaintiffs Lisa Sherman and her husband, Randy, allege that Slidell Police Officer Luke Irwin had a non-consensual relationship with Lisa Sherman that involved “continuous sexual assaults.” According to court documents, this “caused her extreme humiliation, embarrassment and psychological injury.”   

The suit also alleges Irwin maintained the relationship through coercion and intimidation, including threatening Sherman in her efforts to be granted custody for one of her children. The assaults allegedly occurred for almost a year, between the summer of 2015 and May 2016. 

In the 20-page ruling filed July 31, U.S. District Judge Carl J. Bariber granted in part a motion by the city and former Police Chief Randy Smith to dismiss for failure to state a claim in regards to alleged misconduct before April 26, 2016.   

Barbier also granted in part a motion to dismiss claims of liability that Smith and the city of Slidell failed to adequately train Irwin and to supervise him. “That kind of deliberate, illegal, and deplorable behavior is almost assuredly the result of the officer’s personal shortcomings and not the result of a failure to train,” the ruling said.

The judge also granted motions to dismiss plaintiffs' claims based on vicarious liability and the plaintiffs' demand for punitive damages against the city.

In addition, Barbier granted Irwin’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, or in the alternative, motion for a more definite statement in regard to the alleged conduct by Irwin that had occurred before April 26, 2016. 

The judge said that the plaintiffs needed to “issue a more definite statement” against Irwin by filing an amended complaint and requested that the plaintiffs submit more information, including specifically when the alleged acts occurred, whether or not Irwin had been acting in the capacity of his official duties at the time, and the number of alleged incidents.

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