A Little Rock dentist acquitted of sexual assault last year is suing authorities over their handling of the case.
Jose Turcios, a Little Rock dentist, was acquitted of second-degree sexual assault in April 2016, by a Pulaski County jury. His arrest in March 2015, came after a teenage girl accused him of sexually assaulting her during an appointment.
The 21-page civil-rights lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, accuses the defendants of being involved in a conspiracy against Turcios, with intent to steal his patients and harm him economically. The complaint also argues that Turcios was the victim of malicious prosecution.
The defendants in the case include Tabitha Carter, Brandon Eggerth, Jared McCauley, Brian Dunger and Michael Lundy, all Little Rock police officers. Lt. Michael Ford, a police spokesman, said Carter and McCauley are now sergeants with the department.
The lawsuit also lists Andrea Carter, an investigator with the Arkansas State Police, as a defendant, along with the accuser and the accuser's mother.
Some of the defendants had no comment on the lawsuit or did not know about it when reached by phone. Others could not be reached Wednesday.
Last year, a civil suit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court by the accuser's mother, claimed Turcios sexually assaulted the girl, who was 15 at the time, and argued the dentist had "willfully and wantonly engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct" that caused the girl emotional distress and bodily harm. Healthy Smiles, where Turcios worked as a dentist and where the lawsuit contends the alleged assault occurred, was also listed as a defendant.
The litigation is seeking damages and a jury trial has been set for January 2019, according to court documents. The accuser and her mother are both listed as plaintiffs in the suit.
In the federal civil case filed by Turcios, the lawsuit said a Pulaski County circuit judge authorized an arrest warrant for Turcios in March 2015, on an affidavit submitted by Tabitha Carter. Police then arrested Turcios and his dental license was suspended for about a month because of the arrest, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit argues that Turcios' arrest warrant was "obtained by evidence fabrication, willful omission of exculpatory information and deliberate misrepresentation of material facts committed by [the] Defendants."
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of "demonstrating a willful, wanton and conscious indifference to his constitutional rights and constitutionally-protected property interests."
The act and omissions, according to the lawsuit, were done to damage Turcios' business relationship with patients and his professional reputation. It stated that those acts were an effort to benefit the defendants in various ways, "including attempts to gain professional stature and a desire to reap monetary benefits."
Turcios' arrest caused him personal humiliation and damaged his reputation in the community, according to the lawsuit, which also asserts the accuser and her mother were "coerced and significantly encouraged" by authorities to fabricate allegations against Turcios.
The complaint also states the defendants conspired to deny Turcios equal protection based on "racial and/or ethnic animosity" toward the dentist, who emigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador in 2004.
A Pulaski County jury found Turcios innocent of sexual assault in April 2016. During the trial, attorneys drew two separate narratives of how the events transpired. Prosecutors portrayed the dentist as an opportunist taking advantage of a sedated teenage girl. They brought forward a witness who accused Turcios of sexual abuse in 2008. Although a police report was never made, the woman said she did tell a dental assistant about the incident, among others.
Turcios' defense attorney, Bill James, cited contradictions in the woman's story. The dental assistant said during the trial that she had never heard any complaint from the woman.
Information for this article was contributed by Brandon Mulder for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Metro on 11/23/2017
Print Headline: Acquitted LR dentist sues over 2016 sex case