Special Needs Caregiver Charles Couch Sues After Wrongful Arrest in Sex Sting

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The caregiver to a disabled boy in California is suing the city of Manhattan Beach, after he was wrongfully arrested in a sex sting and his name and photograph were published on the police website and in newspapers.

Charles S. Couch of Hawthorne claims he was subjected to a false arrest, illegal search and seizure, and a number of other civil rights violations.

Couch, 22, was arrested Mar. 9, 2012, in a sting held in a bathroom where authorities claim many homosexuals participate in anonymous sex.

According to the suit, filed in Los Angeles federal court Friday, Couch claims his ward went to use the public bathroom while he waited outside. He says it wasn’t unusual for the boy to take an “abnormally long time” in the restroom. At some point an undercover cop entered the stall next to the boy, who soon “bolted.” He allegedly came out and told Couch that a man was looking at him through a hole in his bathroom stall.

Couch tried to leave with his ward, when they were stopped by five plainclothes police officers.

“Why are you leaving so quickly?” he says an officer asked.

Couch claims he feared for the safety of the boy because the officers were dressed like “thugs.” When he tried to go Couch claims he was “tackled, choked and handcuffed” by police.

Couch was detained for several hours. He was accused of child endangerment and gay cruising.

The complaint states that the boy’s parents vouched for Couch to police. He has worked with special needs children for years. He claims police continued to “badger” him and “wouldn’t take any other answer.”

He was eventually released because police didn't have enough evidence to charge him with a crime.

Police searched his car and confiscated his laptop, which he says wasn’t returned for months.

The suit seeks $5 million in damages for mental distress, loss of work, and aggravation.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Raw Story