Panel rules against paying officer's damages Federal jury awarded rape victim $1.05 million

October 25, 1995|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County taxpayers will not have to foot the bill for a former police officer accused of rape, an administrative panel has ruled.

The officer, Michael Dennis Ziegler, had asked the county government to pay $1.05 million in damages that a U.S. District Court awarded a Laurel woman who accused him of rape.

His attorney argued that the county should pay because Mr. Ziegler was on duty, in uniform and in his patrol car when the incident occurred.

The county Board of Appeals voted unanimously to deny Mr. Ziegler's request, according to documents released this week. Officials said the decision is not final until a formal written opinion.

Robert C. Verderaime, Mr. Ziegler's attorney, said yesterday that he was unaware of the board's ruling. Once he receives written confirmation, Mr. Verderaime said his client could appeal it in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

Mr. Verderaime said he has challenged the underlying jury award, filing an appeal last week with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

Erin K. Jones, who said Mr. Ziegler raped her, has appealed a related federal court decision that neither the county nor three former police chiefs can be held responsible, Mr. Verderaime said.

The case began Nov. 15, 1990, when Mr. Ziegler stopped the car Ms. Jones was driving in Pasadena for alleged traffic violations. However, he did not arrest her or write a citation. He drove her to a church parking lot where, she testified last fall, he raped her on the front seat of his cruiser.

Mr. Ziegler testified the encounter was consensual. In March 1991, the 18-year police veteran was convicted of police misconduct in a plea arrangement with the state's attorney's office and resigned. He served no jail time.

Ms. Jones sued Mr. Ziegler for common law battery and violating her Fourth Amendment rights.

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