The federal lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of David Andrews, 52, of Beaver Falls, who was charged last November by Stowe Township police Officer Robert Scuilli. Scuilli, his acting chief, Officer Matthew Preininger, and the township are named as defendants.
An Allegheny County judge on June 17 found Andrews not guilty of child-luring, corruption of minors and harassment. But Andrews argues in the nine-page suit those charges should never have been filed.
"This lawsuit contends that misrepresentations, falsehoods and omissions can never be a substitute for the probable cause demanded by the Fourth Amendment as a condition to charging any citizen with a criminal offense," Andrews' attorney, Timothy O'Brien said.
The 15-year-old girl told police a man driving a red four-door sedan with a Pennsylvania license plate including the letters "ACG" tried to lure her into the vehicle on Nov. 25. She told police then the man was about 35 and had black hair, according to the lawsuit.
The next day, the girl saw Andrews driving his car into a parking lot and told police she thought he was the man who tried to lure her, even though Andrews' car was not a four-door sedan and his license included the letters "JDG," not "ACG." Andrews' vehicle also had a large rear sticker reading "Keep Tahoe Blue" even though the victim didn't describe such a sticker the day before.
Despite that, Andrews and O'Brien contend Scuilli charged Andrews, while omitting the discrepancies in the descriptions.
Scuilli's complaint also said the victim described the suspect as having black hair with streaks of gray, instead of just black as she first told police, and that she told police he was "middle-aged" instead of her more specific initial description of a man in his 30s.
Andrews, a married father of three, was arrested and jailed for three days before he could post bond, and the case was reported by Pittsburgh-area television news stations.
"I felt like I was going to vomit," Andrews said. "I mean, it was that bad. I had never been in trouble in my entire life. I had never even been in back of a police car. It made my family worried sick—and they're still sick—and that's why we're trying to bring light to this because there's too many innocent people being run through the ringer."
Andrews was ordered to stand trial after the girl testified at a preliminary hearing about the encounter with Andrews' car the day after the luring attempt, but later acknowledged at trial the descriptions she gave police changed, O'Brien said.
A judge found Andrews not guilty after a 911 transcript and the initial police report revealed those "blatant inconsistencies," the lawsuit said, and after Andrews' criminal attorney introduced cellphone records to support his claim that he was home miles away when the girl was approached.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, and doesn't target the victim. The police and the township's attorney didn't immediately return calls for comment.
"The police were present at the preliminary hearing and knew the testimony was false and didn't do anything," O'Brien said. "The responsibility for what happened to Mr. Andrews rests with the police, not with the victim."