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Friday, August 19, 2011

Judge Calls Deputy's Harassment of Neighbor 'Atrocious Conduct'

Judge Calls Deputy's Harassment of Neighbor 'Atrocious Conduct'
The New York Law Journal by John Caher - August 19, 2011

A deputy sheriff who undertook a campaign of harassment against a neighbor he thought was a pedophile has been hit with a default judgment by a federal judge who termed the officer's alleged behavior "outrageous, atrocious conduct that is utterly intolerable in a civilized society." The complaint against Monroe County Deputy Sheriff Michael Hildreth, who has since been convicted of eavesdropping and official misconduct and fired, alleges that he: publicly accused his neighbor of being a pedophile; told the neighbor's employer he was a pedophile; wrongly used his position as a deputy sheriff to launch an investigation; tricked the neighbor into installing spyware on his computer so he could track his activities; ordered the man to leave the neighborhood; and taped a rotting fish head to the neighbor's car. Since Mr. Hildreth did not answer the complaint or dispute the allegations, Western District U.S. Judge Michael A. Telesca assumed the allegations are true and issued a default judgment and referred the matter to U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan W. Feldman for a hearing on damages. However, in Missel v. County of Monroe, 10-cv-6380, Judge Telesca dismissed much of the complaint, in which James Missel alleged that Mr. Hildreth continues to harass him with the assistance of the Monroe County Sheriff's Department. The saga apparently dates to 2005, when Mr. Missel was working with several agencies that provided services to children and Deputy Hildreth told the employers that Mr. Missel was a pedophile, according to the complaint. Mr. Missel contends that Deputy Hildreth, posing as a woman interested in children's causes, sent him an e-mail with an attachment which, when opened, installed a program called "eBlaster" on his computer and enabled the police officer to monitor all of his computer activity. Mr. Missel brought those concerns to the Monroe County Sheriff's Department, which conducted an investigation that resulted in several charges, including eavesdropping and official misconduct, against then Deputy Hildreth. After the deputy's conviction, he was fired. Mr. Missel then sued the county, sheriff and Mr. Hildreth alleging a violation of his civil rights. The court, finding no indication that the county defendants ignored Deputy Hildreth's behavior, dismissed the action. Eight months later, Mr. Missel filed the latest action, alleging continued harassment by the deputy and retaliation by the county for filing the 2007 lawsuit. Judge Telesca found no liability on the part of the county defendants. "Indeed, the facts alleged in the complaint establish that Hildreth was arrested or subjected to court proceedings several times for violations of probation or criminal activity directed at Missel," the judge wrote. "Accordingly, the alleged facts stated in the complaint fail to plausibly suggest that the County allowed Hildreth to harass Missel in retaliation for Missel having filed a lawsuit against the County." The court did, however, uphold Mr. Missel's claim against Deputy Hildreth for intentional infliction of emotional distress in a decision dated Aug. 17. Christina A. Agola of Brighton, Monroe County, represents Mr. Missel. The county was defended by Michele Romance Crain of the county legal department. John Caher can be reached at


Anonymous said...

when's it going to stop man, everyone of these stories make me sick and I can't figure out why a person when they get a position in law enforcement turn into a total piece of crap and the same holds true to most politicians and judges, corruption is wide up and this violence is what concerns me

SH said...

It is all about their ego. I guess they figure it is better than sex.