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Purvis v. Ribas

August 10, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge


This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion [#14] is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

Jurisdiction and Venue

Plaintiff, Gina Purvis ("Purvis"), brings this action against her former student, Mickey Ribas ("Mickey"), and Mickey's parents, Michael and Marilyn Ribas (hereinafter referred to as "Mr. Ribas" and "Mrs. Ribas"). Mickey's cousin, Rick Lee Andes ("Andes"), was previously named as a Defendant but has since been dismissed. The five-count complaint alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, invasion of privacy, and conversion of personal property and identity.

Jurisdiction is proper in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as Purvis resides in Missouri, and the Ribases reside in Illinois. Venue is proper as all alleged events occurred within the boundaries of this district. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

Defendants have now moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The matter is fully briefed, and this Order follows.

Factual Background

Purvis was a tenured teacher at Hall High School in Spring Valley, Illinois.*fn1 On November 10, 2004, Mickey "instigated the spread of false rumors" that he was having a sexual relationship with Purvis. When confronted by school authorities, Mickey twice denied having a sexual relationship with Purvis. However, after being assured that Purvis would not get in trouble and being threatened with expulsion or arrest if the rumors were not true, Mickey told authorities the sexual relationship did in fact exist. School officials notified the Chief of Police, who then notified the Department of Children and Family Services.

On and after November 10, 2004, Purvis was investigated, arrested, and indicted for sexual assault against Mickey. Purvis was suspended with pay pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings and subsequently dismissed from her position. On October 31, 2005, at the conclusion of a six-day bench trial, Purvis was acquitted of all charges.

According to the Amended Complaint, Mickey had a troubled family life, and Purvis had reached out to him. In Spring 2004, similar rumors of a sexual relationship had surfaced, and Mickey had denied them. Prior to November 10, 2004, Mickey had found out that Purvis, her husband, and her toddler daughter were thinking about moving out of town. He demanded to know if she was leaving and why she would abandon her students. After being confronted and investigated by the authorities on November 10th, Mickey called Purvis to warn her about the rumors and the investigation. When Purvis told Mickey that she would address the rumors when she returned to school, he told her that he hoped she went to jail.

Mickey told the Chief of Police that he had sex with Purvis for the first time on February 13, 2004, but on November 16, 2004, contradicted himself and stated that the first time he had sex with Purvis was the week after February 13, 2004. At trial, he gave yet another version of the story when he testified that the first sexual contact occurred sometime between February 9 and 13, 2004. Mickey stated that he had sex with Purvis at her home twice, once "prior to March 5, 2004, the second time a Saturday." Mr. Ribas testified that he dropped Mickey off at Purvis' home twice in late March 2004. Andes stated that he dropped Mickey off one of the two times and that the day was a Friday. Mickey also testified that on one of the nights it had poured rain, but meteorological reports show that no rain fell on any of the dates Mickey alleges the acts to have occurred.

Purvis points to other misrepresentations made by the Defendants. Mickey and his father "intentionally misrepresented" an incident after November 10, 2004, regarding a threatening phone call made by Mickey to Purvis and her husband. Mickey also changed some aspects of his video testimony regarding a statement he had previously made about ejaculating nine times one night at Purvis' home. The alteration in his testimony and some other added details to his story of the events that took place at Purvis' home were apparently due to coaching by the Chief of Police. Furthermore, Mickey answered "I don't recall" over fifty times at trial. Purvis states that Mickey and Rick made false and defamatory statements and that Mickey continues to do so in internet communications.

Mickey created a videotape at the Ribas residence that included himself and other Hall High School males "engaging in acts of excessive alcohol consumption, purging, urination, exposing of the male penis and genitalia, and/or masturbation." The students on the tape voiced concern about the consequences if Purvis found out about the tape. Mickey mailed this tape to Purvis' out of state teenage niece "during the relevant period."

Using the Ribas family computer, Mickey stole her internet identity. In an instant message conversation with Purvis's mother, Mickey posed as Purvis to learn "intimate details of Plaintiff's personal life," which he later used to suggest an intimate relationship to the Chief. Mickey also tried to insinuate an intimate relationship with Purvis when he told the Chief that he had received ...

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