A former Oregon City, Oregon, soccer coach who was falsely accused of molesting a 12-year-old girl on his team is reportedly suing Clackamas County for more than $7 million.
In 2013, Joe Leonetti, 44, was arrested after police received a report that he had molested the girl, according to Oregon Live.
The sexual abuse allegation against him “came out of nowhere” he told Oregon Live, and was “a shot to the gut.”
The girl was a member of the soccer team he coached, his daughter’s best friend, and the daughter of a Clackamas County deputy, KPTV reports.
“You just automatically feel that you have a scarlet letter on you,” Leonetti told Oregon Live.
Due to the charge, which Leonetti said was made up by the girl, he was not allowed to sleep at his own home or have unsupervised contact with one of his daughters.
The restrictions were lifted only after a state Department of Human Services investigation concluded he did not pose a threat.
Adding to the emotional strain he was experiencing was his wife's battle with breast cancer. She died from the disease in June 2015.
The charges against Leonetti were dropped on the first day of his trial in February 2015, KPTV reports.
He is now suing for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and denial of his rights.
"I’m not going to be the guy who skated through because I had a good lawyer or the evidence wasn't enough,” Leonetti told KPTV right after his case was dismissed. “I’m going to be the guy who proved his innocence because he was innocent."
The lawsuit asks for $7.5 million in damages.
The detectives who managed Leonetti’s case are directly referred to in the lawsuit. It claims they arrested him without cause and that the investigation was corrupt.
“Defendants covered up the inconsistencies, failed to investigate them and presented a glossed-over fact scenario to the prosecuting attorney,” the lawsuit states.
“Our family was filled with relief and joy at the dismissal of the case last year,” Leonetti said in a recent statement to KPTV. “My wife and I enjoyed our last months together with the black cloud of uncertainty lifted, and my children and I were afforded the time to grieve without burden.
"Our family feels a responsibility to the public to expose the serious injustice of this investigation.”