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CA Teacher Wrongly Arrested for Sexual Misconduct; Wins Nearly $4.5 Million

Patrick Gillan, a teacher and coach for the girls basketball team at a high school in San Marino, California, was arrested for sexual misconduct involving one of his players. The only evidence against him was the girl's inconsistent statements, which Gillan flatly denied. Moreover, she admitted she was angry with Gillan because he had criticized her play in basketball games. Even so, Gillan was arrested and a press release resulted in coverage of the incident by the local news. The D.A. later declined to prosecute, citing “lack of sufficient corroboration.”

Gillan filed and won a civil action against the City of San Marino and police officers identified only as Sgt. Street and Lt. Petersen for false arrest, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He was awarded $4.45 million at trial. The defendants' motion for judgment n.o.v. was denied and they appealed.

The Court of Appeal of the State of California, 2nd Appellate District, Division 3, found the defendants were immune from liability for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress under Government Code § 821.6. However, the Court affirmed the finding of liability for false arrest, and remanded the case for a new hearing on damages related to that claim. See Gillan v. City of San Marino, et al., 147 Cal.App.4th 1033, 55 Cal.Rptr.3d 158 (Cal.App. 2 Dist., 2007), review denied.

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Related legal case

Gillan v. City of San Marino