NOREEN: After Carrier's trial, a civil suit

BARRY NOREEN Updated: April 12, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: April 12, 2012

The jury still is deliberating in the case of Josh Carrier, the former Colorado Springs cop charged with molesting 22 boys while volunteering with the wrestling program at Horace Mann Middle School.

Regardless of the verdict, who will be held liable? The taxpayers of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs School District 11.

There is a civil claim against the city and the school district that probably will involve millions by the time there is a trial or a settlement. Remember, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty, then lost a civil suit.

If the victims’ claims are substantially true, they must be our top concern, because their healing process may take quite a while. If the abuse did occur, it will stain CSPD and D-11 for years to come, but agencies and their reputations are not as important as our children.

Trouble is, CSPD was taken by surprise when the Carrier revelations became known. Prosecutor Amy Fitch seemed to place most of the blame at D-11’s doorstep when she said of D-11 officials during her closing argument, “They weren’t watching him with a jaundiced eye. They weren’t watching him at all.”

Well, CSPD’s collective investigative brilliance was caught unaware, too.

No matter.

Both governmental entities and the taxpayers who support them are going to be on the hook for Carrier, and a ‘not guilty’ verdict won’t keep a civil case from moving forward.

How much money it will cost is anyone’s guess, but there isn’t much doubt that the alleged abuse suffered by some of the 22 victims in the criminal case is worthy of substantial compensation.

City Attorney Chris Melcher would only say, “The city has received notice of claim with regard to the boys. The city takes those very seriously and it is investigating those.”

Only 17 of the 22 victims in the criminal case are currently listed as plaintiffs in the civil complaint.

According to testimony in the Carrier trial, the abuse in some of the cases was far worse than it was in others. That’s the kind of thing that will be sorted out later in the civil case.

If there is a guilty verdict it would be hard to find a more disgraceful episode than this in CSPD’s history, and that includes the evidence locker scandal that resulted in the 2006 resignation of former Police Chief Lou Velez.

The city and the school district will be co-defendants in any civil case, but that doesn’t mean they would be allies. Attorneys for each will be trying to minimize liability for their client.

If the verdict is ‘guilty,’ Carrier will go to prison and there will be many young lives we’re all responsible to help heal. Even if it’s ‘not guilty,’ a civil suit will go forward that will leave its mark on the community.

Listen to Barry Noreen on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on twitter and Facebook.

 

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