Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a motion this past Friday to dismiss one of the claims filed against UMBC Police Chief Paul Dillon on behalf of the police chief. Alternatively, the motion asks for summary judgment, a court order ruling that the other party to the case — in this instance the plaintiff — has no case because there are no facts at issue. In addition to or in place of summary judgment, the motion asks for Dillon to have qualified immunity in this case; this would protect him from being sued for all discretionary actions performed within his capacity as deputy chief in 2015.
The claim in question was filed by one of the two plaintiffs who have recently come forward to allege that UMBC mishandled her 2015 sexual assault case. The plaintiff has alleged that Dillon “‘improperly’ persuaded her to not file a police report about the alleged assault.”
The motion states that Dillon had “merely explained … her reporting options” in a meeting with the plaintiff, her mother and Rina Rhyne, a former UMBC employee who worked as the program coordinator for Voices Against Violence at the time. These reporting options include filing a complaint with UMBC’s Title IX office, filing a criminal complaint with the UMBC police department, which would be referred to the Baltimore County Police Department, or filing both a complaint with Title IX and a criminal complaint.
The plaintiff alleges that Dillon “persuaded her not to pursue a criminal investigation of her assailant.” The motion argues that, since Dillon informed the survivor of all of her reporting options, “even if the Court accepts [the plaintiff’s] allegations as true, [Dillon’s actions] were not unlawful.”
Dillon and Rhyne both submitted affidavits along with the motion to dismiss, which present their understanding of the handling of the 2015 case. In his meeting with the plaintiff in 2015, Dillon states that he explained the difference in reporting to UMBC’s Title IX office or to the BCPD and that while he did not “explicitly” tell the plaintiff that the Title IX proceeding would be easier, he states that “[the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s mother] … may have drawn these conclusions based on my explanations about the different processes, the anticipated length of the different proceedings, and the different applicable standards of proof.”
According to Dillon’s affidavit, UMBC strives to handle its Title IX cases within 60 days, while criminal proceedings can take much longer. Additionally, within a criminal process, the prosecutor must “show the Respondent is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” while under the UMBC Title IX process, the reporting party must “show by a preponderance of evidence that the Respondent was in violation of the UMBC Sexual Misconduct Policy.”
Rhyne states within her affidavit that during her meeting with the plaintiff and Dillon, “At no time did Deputy Chief Dillon attempt to influence [the plaintiff] in her choice as to whether to file University Title IX charges, criminal charges, or both.”
The motion to dismiss includes email communication between the plaintiff and Dillon where the plaintiff states that she would like to pursue a “university investigation, not a police investigation.” Dillon also provided email records showing that he contacted the BCPD to prepare them for a potential criminal complaint had the plaintiff decided to pursue a police investigation.
Dillon also states within his affidavit that, contrary to the allegations from the plaintiff, her report of sexual assault does appear as one of the ten reported rapes in the 2015 Clery Report.