Rig worker cleared by DNA seeks $5M over wrongful lockup for sexual assault

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Apr. 21, 2009, 9:28am


GALVESTON – Claiming Galveston County law enforcement officials wrongfully arrested him for sexual assault two years ago, a Harris County offshoreman seeks $5 million, recent court documents say.

Aundre Leroy Parish is suing the state of Texas, Galveston County, Galveston County Precinct 2 and Deputy Joel J. Caldwell in Galveston County District Court.

Parish alleges that he spent six months in the Galveston County Jail for a crime he did not commit because of the defendants' malicious conduct and indifference to his constitutional rights.

"The defendant did not have probable cause to initiate the prosecution," the suit says.

According to the complaint, Parish works as a cook on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. Customs officials took Parish into custody when he came ashore at Galveston on Jan. 4, 2007. He was then turned over to the Galveston County Sheriff's Department under suspicion of sexual assault.

A Galveston woman reportedly filed a criminal complaint against the plaintiff, the suit states.

She claims she was molested by a black male with a tattoo on the side of his neck with the words "Sweet Pea" and a scar on the back of one of his hands on Dec. 26, 2006.

The woman identified Parish as her attacker shortly afterwards, and Parish was held on $250,000 bond.

However, results from several DNA tests prompted Parish's release in July 2007.

The Galveston County District Attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case due to insufficient evidence five months later.

Parish insists he was not in Galveston at the time from the incident, but was working and living on an offshore platform off the Louisiana coast between Dec. 21, 2006, and Jan. 4, 2007, the suit states.

The plaintiff stated that it was not possible for him to leave the rig without taking a helicopter, that he does not have any tattoos with the words "Sweet Pea" and that the name of the actual suspect is William.

Moreover, the complaint faults the defendants for not conducting a thorough investigation, not properly supervising officers, and not adequately disciplining the use of unreasonable investigative procedures.

The plaintiff says his salary was not enough to cover the bond thus he was forced to stay behind bars as long as he did.

Parish consequently seeks damages for expenses incurred in connection with all associated criminal proceedings and appeals and in connection with obtaining the plaintiff's discharge from imprisonment.

He also requests a jury trial.

Houston attorney Dinesh H. Singhal represents Parish, and the case has been assigned to Galveston County 405th District Court Judge Wayne Mallia.

Case No. 09CV0531

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