Ex-police officer appeals order on $1 million award

August 29, 1995|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Sun Staff Writer

A Glen Burnie man who had been accused of rape is expected to argue tonight that because he was a county police officer when the incident occurred, Anne Arundel taxpayers should pay the more than $1 million in damages he owes the victim of the alleged assault.

Michael Dennis Ziegler's attorney, Robert C. Verderaime, contends that the county should pay the damages because his client was on duty and in uniform when the Nov. 15, 1990, incident occurred.

Mr. Ziegler, then a police officer, stopped Erin K. Jones on a Pasadena street for traffic violations, according to testimony during the civil trial. The officer did not arrest her or write a citation. Instead, he drove her to a church parking lot, where, she testified, he raped her in the front seat of his cruiser.

Mr. Ziegler testified that the encounter was consensual.

A U.S. District Court jury awarded Ms. Jones $1.05 million last September after she filed suit against Mr. Ziegler for violating her civil rights.

Earlier, in a plea agreement with the county prosecutor, Mr. Ziegler, an 18-year police veteran, resigned from the force and was convicted of police misconduct. He served no jail time.

County administrators ruled this spring that the county is not liable for the damages awarded by a federal court because his actions were outside the scope of his police duties.

The former officer is asking the county Board of Appeals to reverse that decision. The appeal hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Arundel Center in Annapolis.

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