In yet another federal civil rights lawsuit, the American taxpayer will likely foot the bill for the unconscionable actions of a few uneducated and unscrupulous police officers. This time, the police officer decided to arrest his ex-wife for “criminal defamation” of character, for Facebook posts she made which he, obviously, didn’t like.
The only problem is that criminal defamation was ruled unconstitutional in Georgia over 30 years ago! Worse yet, court papers reveal an earlier accusation that Officer Corey King used his badge to coerce his ex-wife into having post-divorce sex with him in order to keep her out of jail!
The lawsuit was filed on the 19th of January, 2017. Anne King is suing her ex-husband, Officer King, and fellow officer and investigator Trey Burgamy for violating her first and fourth amendment rights to free speech and unreasonable search, seizure, and arrest, as well as malicious prosecution, false arrest, and civil conspiracy. She's suing both men, who are Washington County, Georgia police officers, for an unspecified amount of money to be determined by the court.
The lawsuit is set to be settled Thursday, March 8, 2018.
Lawyers for Ms. King allege the county has a history of jailing people for defamation of character. “Although criminal defamation has been unconstitutional in Georgia for decades, County law enforcement, on information and belief, regularly arrest and charge people with criminal defamation,” the suit reads.
Going further, the suit alleges Officer King misuses his position as a police officer in Washington County. In one instance, the suit alleges, he coerced his ex-wife into having sex with him. “Officer King uses the County’s unconstitutional custom to manipulate Ms. King. After the Kings divorced and Officer King remarried, for example, his new wife began harassing Ms. King,” the suit contends. “During one encounter, Ms. King said something about the new wife’s weight,” it reads. Apparently upset with having his new wife’s girth questioned by his ex-wife, the suit contends Officer Washington requested an arrest warrant to have her hauled into jail. “And within days the County magistrate had issued a warrant against Ms. King,” it says.
At this point, Mr. King apparently got the bright idea to get sex out of the deal. “Officer King seized the opportunity. He propositioned Ms. King: If she slept with him, he promised to get the case dismissed. She slept with him, and the case was dismissed,” the lawsuit reads. While all of the aforementioned actions by law enforcement may seem unfathomable to some, here at The Free Thought Project, we regularly report on sexual improprieties of law enforcement officials, but there’s much more to Ms. King’s story.
The latest incident occurred, which got King and her friend jailed, happened when Ms. King was venting about her ex-husband on Facebook. Here’s the incident in detail, taken directly from the lawsuit:
In January 2015, Ms. King was caring for her and Officer King’s son and daughter. Everyone in her house was sick. The Kings’ eight-year-old son had it the worst; he had been to the emergency room. So Ms. King asked Officer King to pick up some medicine on his way to work. Although Ms. King’s house is just three miles from the Sheriff’s Office, he refused to do so, claiming he was too busy. The next morning, January 15, 2015, Ms. King vented on Facebook: Several people commented on the post, expressing their support. ‘POS,’Susan Hines wrote. ‘Give me an hour and check your mailbox. I’ll be GLAD to pick up the slack.’”
Ms. Hines’ comment, calling Officer King a “POS”, would eventually be used to jail her as well as Ms. King. The lawsuit continues,
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Officer King wasn’t as supportive. ‘Take that bullshit off Facebook,’ he wrote. But she didn’t. And so later, he took a screen shot of the post and the comments, added something about how ‘righteous’ he was, and posted it on Facebook.
Not content with having the Facebook post removed, Officer King then decided to once again use his position with the Washington County Police Department to have his ex-wife and her friend arrested for calling him a “POS” and pointing out he didn’t have time to bring his children any medicine.
The lawsuit continues:
Officer King and Investigator Burgamy then cooked up a scheme to have Ms. King charged, arrested, and jailed. Officer King started by filing an incident report with Investigator Burgamy, styling himself as the “Victim.” The next day, the County magistrate—who works regularly with Officer King—issued a notice, ordering Ms. King and Hines to appear for a warrant hearing. On January 21, 2015, Ms. King and Hines appeared for the warrant hearing. When the hearing began, the magistrate already had printouts of the Facebook posts. Officer King testified first. He admitted that he had requested a warrant against Ms. King because of her “derogatory statements” on Facebook. Officer King was the only witness for the prosecution. At some point, the magistrate surmised that this case “was not actually about harassing phone calls,” but “defamation of character.” He ultimately determined that Ms. King had criminally defamed Officer King and instructed a deputy magistrate to sign a warrant charging Ms. King with “CRIMINAL DEFAMATION”.
After the two were hauled into court, the Magistrate and friend of Officer King, Ralph O.Todd told Ms. Hines (Anne King’s friend), “You can call Mr. King a piece of shit to his face…You can even tell someone else you think he is a piece of shit. But you can’t post it out for the public to see. That’s defamation of character.” The two were then sent to the county jail for booking.
But that’s where things get even weirder. According to lawyers for Ms. King, the jailer couldn’t find the input code in his computer system for the crime of “criminal defamation” and had to even consult with the manufacturer of the program to figure out a way to put the pair of mothers in jail. “The jailer cannot find a code for ‘criminal defamation’ because it is not a crime—and hasn’t been for decades,” Ms. King's lawyers contend.
King and her friend spent four hours in jail and were released on $1000 bond. Later, when she had to appear before a Georgia State Judge, who couldn’t understand why she was even being charged, the case was thrown out. The judge reportedly said, “I don’t even know why we’re here.”
While the court case against Ms. King was over, the harassment wasn’t, the lawsuit alleges, describing an incident where the formerly married couple were fighting again. Officer King threatened Ms. King (supposedly in a text message), “[D]on’t make the mistake of going to Facebook with your little shit you found to fuss about,” he wrote to which Ms. King responded, “Make sure you have [the magistrate] on standby.” “[I’d] rather not waste [his] time again.”
Officer King then threatened to charge her again by writing, “[w]illful contempt is better.” Lawyers for the officer’s ex-wife contend, “Ms. King lives in fear, worrying that at any time she could be arrested and jailed if someone does not like something she says. She also experiences anxiety and distress, knowing that Officer King remains affiliated with County law enforcement, knowing that he could arrest her again for anything, or nothing at all.”
An unidentified friend of the family told The Free Thought Project Ms. King, “was arrested for what she posted on Facebook. That’s the big picture!”
The family friend also added that all Ms. King is attempting to get out of the lawsuit is “piece of mind."