Robin Niceta, the former Arapahoe County child protective worker charged criminally with falsely reporting that a critic of the former Aurora police chief sexually abused her son, made sexual advances toward parents and caretakers while investigating them for spurious child abuse allegations, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday states.
The lawsuit alleges Niceta also sought to separate parents and caretakers from their children when they refused her sexual advances.
Niceta’s lawyer, Marci Gilligan LaBranche, declined comment. A spokesperson for Arapahoe County said the county could not comment because it has not yet received the lawsuit. He previously said the county still is waiting for completion of a Colorado Department of Human Services review of Niceta’s child protective case work that she conducted as an employee of the county.
The lawsuit, filed in Arapahoe County District Court, seeks class-action status that would be “composed of well over 40 persons.” The lawsuit names as defendants Niceta; the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services; that agency’s Division of Child & Adult Protection Services; a manager in that division; and the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners. The manager is identified as Michelle Dossey.
Elliot Singer, a civil rights attorney and former Colorado assistant attorney general, plans to hold a press conference with several of the individuals seeking class-action status Thursday morning in front of the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services.
None of the individuals seeking class-action status are named in the lawsuit except Aurora Councilwoman Danielle Jurinsky.
Police charged Niceta in May with falsely reporting to a child abuse hotline an anonymous complaint that she saw Jurinsky inappropriately touching her 2-year-old son. The hotline complaint came on Jan. 28, a day after Jurinsky went on a talk show and called then-Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson “trash.”
Wilson and Niceta were romantic partners at the time, but they have since broken up. An investigation cleared Jurinsky of any wrongdoing in relation to her child. Jurinsky maintains the hotline call was retaliation for her criticism of the police chief, who ended up being fired by the Aurora city manager in April.
The lawsuit states that Niceta sought to “engage in sexual relations with parents and caretakers she was actively investigating.” The lawsuits adds that the advances included “offering alcoholic beverages at her personal home and giving away her personal cellphone number.”
The lawsuit accuses Niceta of “knowingly and intentionally introducing false evidence, including fabricated investigative reports, conclusions and altered statements of parents, caretakers and other witnesses into investigatory and judicial proceedings.”
It is the second lawsuit filed in the past two weeks to allege fraudulent child protective case work by Niceta.
Jamie Schneider, 27, in an interview with The Denver Gazette, said Niceta in 2017 offered her a beer at Niceta's home while Niceta was investigating whether Schneider could continue to parent her son, who was struggling and needed therapeutic treatment and was causing trouble in the household.
"She just would make passes at me, and I turned them down," Schneider said of Niceta. "And as a result, she had me sign away my rights to my son to the dad. That was in retaliation for me turning down her passes."
Schneider added that she was in a second marriage at the time, and Niceta kept urging her to leave her husband. She said that Niceta originally kept remarking how beautiful she was but became cold and stern after Schneider told her she planned to remain married and after Schneider turned down Niceta's offer for a round of drinks at her home.
She said her son was making progress in a group home, but Niceta decided he would have to be removed from there and have his father from an earlier marriage take custody. Schneider added that originally the county was going to pay for the therapeutic treatment but instead the county required the father to start paying off the $63,000 bill, which caused Schneider to lose out on child support the father owed.
Niceta’s former partner Kristin Nichols said she plans to join the lawsuit seeking class-action status. The FBI is investigating whether Niceta targeted Nichols for retaliation after Nichols broke up with her, according to five people familiar with the investigation. The FBI is probing whether Niceta falsely reported to Aurora police that Nichols broke into Niceta’s home and assaulted her during the early morning hours of Aug. 27, 2021, according to those familiar with the investigation.
Nichols has steadfastly maintained that she was asleep in her home at the time that Niceta told Aurora she had attacked her. Niceta alleged that Nichols broke into her home after 3 a.m. and then woke her, knocked her unconscious, choked her, and ripped a necklace from her neck.
Nichols faced 15 years in prison, but prosecutors dismissed the charges in June — nearly two months after DNA testing cleared her. The DNA testing found DNA from two individuals on the necklace, but the testing determined that Nichols was not one of the DNA contributors.
The allegations of an attack from Niceta prompted a judge to severely curtail Nichols’ parenting time of her 5-year-old daughter, down to less than two hours a week, supervised by a therapist. The judge previously had deemed Niceta, who helped raise the child when she was with Nichols, should have primary custody due to an earlier bogus domestic violence case, according to Nichols.
An Arapahoe County jury acquitted Nichols of the earlier domestic violence charges after she argued that Niceta was the aggressor. A dependency and neglect case investigation also was launched against Nichols after Niceta reported she was attacked on Aug. 27, and that case was supervised by an Adams County District Court judge. In July, Niceta reversed course and returned the child to Nichols, saying she was moving to New Mexico.
"The damage is extreme," Nichols said. "We're talking years of therapy, unfortunately."
She said that while Niceta had primary custody of her child, Niceta had a doctor prescribe the child an anti-anxiety drug against Nichols' wishes.
Blanca Salomon, 32, also will seek to join the class. She claims that Niceta, as a child protective case worker, falsely alleged in a court filing that Salomon punched her four children and falsely alleged that Salomon's mother said she had to intervene to prevent Salomon from brutalizing the children. An Arapahoe County judge ordered the two oldest children to be placed with Salomon’s mother and the two youngest to be placed with their fathers.
Salomon, a single mother who works as a part-time janitor and receptionist supervisor in a medical facility, said she still is trying to persuade authorities to reunify the family.
The lawsuit states that Niceta tried to influence the outcome of child protective investigations by asking that “certain complaints in which she had a personal interest be assigned to her.”
It also alleges she “sought to improperly influence” child protective investigations not assigned to her and influenced the outcome of child dependency and neglect proceedings by “conspiring with or inducing” child protective workers “to offer false testimony.” She herself also introduced “false testimony” into such judicial proceedings, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services “repeatedly failed to conduct adequate, thorough and constitutional investigations of child abuse and neglect complaints, which deprive parents and caretakers of their rights of due process and equal protection under the law.”
It states the department ignored experts, including medical experts, who disagreed with the department’s recommendations and conclusions in child dependency abuse and neglect filings.