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Billy andrew Speagle, Jr v. C. Steve Ferguson

March 27, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY U.S. District Judge

E-FILED Tuesday, 27 March, 2012 03:33:41 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


This case is before the court for ruling on the Motion for Summary Judgment (#52) filed by Defendants C. Steve Ferguson ("Ferguson") and Duane Deters ("Deters"), and the Motion for Summary Judgment (#53) filed by Defendants Darrell Cox ("Cox"), Coles County Sheriff's Office ("Sheriff's Office") and Coles County. This court has carefully reviewed the arguments and supporting documents filed by the parties. Following this careful and thorough review, Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment (#52, #53) are GRANTED.


I. Police Investigation into Allegations of Sexual Assault

In 1999, the Illinois State Police conducted an investigation into allegations by C. F.*fn2 that she had been sexually abused by the Plaintiff, Billy Andrew Speagle, Jr. This investigation was conducted by Illinois State Police Investigator Rodney Miller ("Investigator Miller"). On November 29, 1999, Investigator Miller, who is now deceased, interviewed Plaintiff about the allegations. Investigator Miller completed an investigative report on November 30, 1999, which extensively described his interview with the Plaintiff. Included in this report was a statement that: "[Plaintiff] advised [him that C.F.] recently admitted to police she had lied to them when she previously implicated [Plaintiff] in an arson." In addition to Investigator Miller's investigation of C.F.'s allegations, it appears that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") investigated C.F.'s allegations and also conducted an interview with Plaintiff. Additionally, as part of the DCFS investigation, C.F. was examined by Dr. Curtis Oddo. Dr. Oddo's examination did not discover any evidence of penetration. Dr. Oddo's examination was not included in the Illinois State Police's file relating to C.F.'s allegations. The Illinois State Police decided not to pursue charges against Plaintiff.

In late 2000, a second child, A.B., made allegations that she had been sexually assaulted by the Plaintiff. Based upon this allegation, an investigation was initiated by Sheriff Cox of the Coles County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Cox interviewed A.B. and found her to be very articulate, and believed that her allegation that she had been sexually assaulted by the Plaintiff was very credible. Sheriff Cox, at the time of his initial interview with A.B., was not aware that Plaintiff was the subject of a prior investigation by the Illinois State Police. Solely on the basis of this interview with A.B., Sheriff Cox believed that the Plaintiff sexually assaulted A.B.

After this initial interview with A.B., Sheriff Cox received a facsimile from Investigator Miller.*fn3 The facsimile included: (1) reports from Investigator Miller's investigation into the allegations made by C.F. about the Plaintiff; and (2) a cover sheet with a handwritten note from Investigator Miller referring to a false allegation of arson against the Plaintiff made by C.F. Specifically, the note stated:

Please call if you have any questions. [C.F.] (victim) admitted to Mattoon Police in a previous interview on an unrelated investigation that she had falsely identified her stepfather (Billy Speagle) as the perp[etrator] on an arson.

Importantly, Sheriff Cox was not made aware of the physical examination of C.F. that was conducted by Dr. Oddo. Sheriff Cox and Investigator Miller never actually discussed C.F.'s allegations against the Plaintiff and Sheriff Cox never personally investigated C.F.'s allegations. At this point, Sheriff Cox completed his case file regarding A.B.'s allegations.

This case file, which also included the information*fn4 from the Illinois State Police, was sent to the Coles County State's Attorney's Office.

II. Coles County State's Attorney Office Involvement

The material sent to the Coles County State's Attorney's Office was initially reviewed by Ferguson, the elected State's Attorney of Coles County. After his initial review of the case file, Ferguson formed the belief that sufficient evidence existed to charge Plaintiff with sexually assaulting A.B. Ferguson, therefore, prepared an information charging Plaintiff based on A.B.'s allegations. On February 22, 2001, Plaintiff was charged by an information with three counts of sexual assault of a child in case #01-CF-109. After charging Plaintiff, Ferguson assigned case #01-CF-109 to Assistant State's Attorney Deters.

Shortly after charging Plaintiff, Ferguson became aware of C.F.'s prior allegations of sexual assault that had been investigated by Investigator Miller. Deters, after taking over case #01-CF-109, reviewed the Illinois State Police report made by Investigator Miller regarding C.F.'s allegations. Deters also had knowledge that DCFS investigated C.F.'s allegations and conducted an interview with Plaintiff regarding the allegations, although it is not clear how Deters became aware of this investigation. Deters did not subpoena documents relating to the DCFS investigation and never actually reviewed any DCFS documents. After reviewing the Illinois State Police report, Deters decided that there was probable cause to charge Plaintiff based on C.F.'s allegations. On May 11, 2001, Plaintiff was charged by an information with three counts of sexual assault of a child in case #2001-CF-300. Besides reviewing Investigator Miller's report and his awareness of the DCFS investigation, Deters did not conduct any further investigation into C.F.'s allegations prior to charging Plaintiff based on those allegations.*fn5 It is undisputed that Deters was, at least at this time, not aware of the medical examination of C.F. by Dr. Oddo.

III. Plea Negotiations & Plea Agreement

Prior to charging Plaintiff in the C.F. case, Deters had correspondence with Plaintiff's defense attorney, Jeannine Garrett ("Garrett"). Specifically, on April 30, 2001, Deters wrote a memo to Garrett stating that Plaintiff "deserves more punishment than a Class X [sentence] will allow. However, in order to spare the victim from trial, I can live with less than the maximum." On May 9, 2001, Deters wrote another memo to Garrett which included the following: (1) a statement to the effect that Deters had recently offered Plaintiff a deal of 25 years in return for a plea of guilty to the A.B. sexual assault; (2) a statement that Plaintiff had a juvenile record a mile long and that his adult criminal history was not much better; (3) a statement that Deters had information that Plaintiff had perpetrated the same offense on another little girl; and (4) that Plaintiff would know who the victim of the prior offense was because there was a DCFS investigation and Plaintiff was interviewed during that investigation.

Garrett received all materials, totaling approximately 642 pages, relating to the two cases against the Plaintiff that were in Deters' possession and discussed these materials with Plaintiff. Included in these materials was the Illinois State Police Report completed by Investigator Miller. Garrett also was informed that there was a DCFS investigation into C.F.'s allegations against the Plaintiff. During the course of her representation, Garrett informed the Plaintiff that if he was convicted of predatory criminal sexual assault in both cases that state law mandated that he be imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole. Deters and Garrett engaged in plea negotiations, and eventually it was agreed that Deters would dismiss the C.F. case in exchange for Plaintiff's guilty plea to two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault in the A.B. case. Plaintiff entered into an open plea ...

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