Mcpeters Default Judgment

A federal district court in Tennessee granted a April McPeters who claimed in a complaint that her probation officer sexually abused her a $500,000 default judgment, plus another $60,863.75 in attorney’s costs, on March 17, 2021.

The findings and recommendation of a magistrate judge published on February 24, 2021, in a lawsuit brought by April Diane McPeters on February 1, 2018, were approved by an order from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

McPeters Story

McPeters served the first five years of her probation without incident after pleading guilty to a charge of food-stamp fraud. She only had two in-person office sessions with Bryant Lamont Thomas after he was designated as her probation officer in late 2016, she said, before he began sending her text messages that got increasingly informal and chatty.

When McPeters went to make the third visit, Thomas was unavailable. However, he called McPeters on her cellphone shortly afterward to inform her that he was making in-home visits. Thomas allegedly became intrusive and exploitative after that, asking personal questions and requesting photos, including sexually explicit photos.

Mcpeters Claims

McPeters claimed in her complaint that Thomas demanded a visit to her home and showed up with his parole and probation badge and a weapon on his belt. Placing his hand on the revolver, he examined the home for witnesses before moving closer to McPeters and muttering demands for her to show him images of herself.

She said she cooperated out of fear, adding that Bryant compelled her to delete a large number of their text messages. He then allegedly commanded McPeters to perform oral sex on him while keeping his hand on the revolver. In “fear of her life and liberty, and under compulsion of [Thomas’s] exercise of his official authority, [McPeters] complied with the command.”

Shutterstock 1019053363 $500,000 - Mcpeters Get'S Default Judgment: Sexually Assaulted By Probation Officer

McPeters claimed that her civil rights had been violated, as well as assault and battery. On March 27, 2019, the case was put on hold while Bryant was prosecuted criminally. The stay was lifted on July 16, 2020, after Thomas’ conviction, and he was given 21 days to reply to the lawsuit. McPeters applied for default after failing to do so, and the court clerk recorded one on September 22, 2020. McPeters then requested a default judgment in writing.

McPeters – The Damage

After Thomas sexually assaulted McPeters, the Court determined that McPeters, suffered a psychological breakdown, relapsed, and began using drugs. She was then charged with methamphetamine possession and lost custody of her children. She testified that she would not have relapsed if the incident had not occurred. McPeters was “doing wonderful” and had her life on track before the incident, according to testimony provided to the Court. One witness, however, noticed that McPeters had changed after the incident.

Mcpeters

The Court determined that a compensatory damages award of $250,000 was appropriate. It also awarded $250,000 in punitive damages to punish Thomas for “his abhorrent behavior while at the same time deter[ing] others from engaging in similar conduct.” Philip N. Elbert, Benjamin C. Aaron, and Jeffrey A. Zager of the Nashville firm of Neal & Hartwell, PLC were also given fees of $60,863.75 each. McPeters v. Thomas, 2021 US Dist. LEXIS 50478; and McPeters v. Thomas, 2021 US Dist. LEXIS 50264 (E.D. Tenn.).

In his criminal case, Thomas pleaded guilty to Class E felony sexual contact with a probationer and was sentenced to two years of supervised probation by the Anderson County Circuit Court. He filed an appeal, claiming that the court abused its discretion by refusing to grant him a sentence diversion instead. However, on January 29, 2021, the state Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision, saying it was entitled to a presumption of reasonableness because Thomas “abused his position of power, authority, and control over the victim for his own sexual gratification.” State v. Thomas, 2021 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 44; State v. Thomas, 2021 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 44; State v. Thomas, 2021 Tenn.

Source: PLN