The Culpeper Police Department is facing lawsuits from a pair of Culpeper residents who claim their privacy was violated by police officers and deputies deliberately shared sexually explicit photos they discovered on one of the plaintiffs’ cell phone after a DUI arrest.
The plaintiffs, Nathan Newhard and Jessie M. Casella, each seek unspecified compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages from the suits they filed in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville in March. The suits name the CPD, Chief Scott Barlow, and a former sergeant alleged to have distributed the photos as defendants.
The complaints say the incident started early on the morning of March 30, 2008, when an unidentified town officer arrested Newhard and charged him with driving under the influence and three other misdemeanors.
The suits claim that while Newhard was in custody, Sgt. Matt Borders gained control of his cell phone, which had nude photographs of Casella, his girlfriend, on it. The suits say he then alerted other officers at the station and showed them the private photos without Newhard’s permission.
Then, the suits say, Borders used his police radio to invite other officers to see the photos. After alerting officers in the building, Borders is accused of using his police radio to invite other officers to view the pictures at the station.
The suits say the situation was eventually brought to Newhard and Casella’s attention by an unnamed sheriff’s deputy.
Newhard claims the incident resulted in him being forced to resign his job as a teacher with Culpeper County Public Schools after news of the incident was leaked to school officials. Casella claims that the incident has also caused serious harm to her professional care as an equine hoof care specialist.
Barlow says that Borders resigned in December. They are the only two defendants the suit identifies by name.