Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Falsely accused young men strike back

Tobyhanna men falsely accused of rape file suit against police

Five Tobyhanna men falsely accused of sexually assaulting two teenage girls in Coolbaugh Township in February 2008 are now suing Pocono Mountain Regional Police and the Monroe County District Attorney's Office for civil rights violations.

Charges against Kasheen Thomas, 22, William Spiess, 20, Jose Lacen, 19, Jaleel Holden and Gene Thomas II (Kasheen's brother), both 18, were dismissed last February after the girls admitted to perjury. Attorney George Reihner of the Wright & Reihner law firm in Scranton filed the civil suit on the men's behalf Monday in federal court in Scranton.

Those being sued include Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis and officers Richard Luthcke, John Bohrman, Lucas Bray, Chris Wagner and Kenneth Lenning, District Attorney David Christine, Assistant District Attorney Michael Rakaczewski and county detective Wendy Bentzoni, Tobyhanna, Tunkhannock and Coolbaugh townships, Mount Pocono Borough and Monroe County.

The girls said they went to meet two of the five men and were then driven to Lacen's home in Pocono Farms East, where they were assaulted. One girl said Lacen held a knife to her throat during the ordeal.

Both girls later admitted to testifying falsely under oath during a March 2008 preliminary hearing and the case was dismissed prior to going to trial.

The voluminous suit includes a 60-page complaint and 218-page preliminary hearing transcript. The men are seeking a judgment against the defendants but the complaint doesn't specify an amount.