Former Bingham County Sheriff Craig Thomas Rowland
BLACKFOOT — Six of the eight victims who were assaulted by former Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland have notified the county of their intent to file a lawsuit.
A notice of tort claim was served on May 6 by attorney Jami Elison on behalf of the victims. It names Rowland and the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office as defendants, Elison told EastIdahoNews.com.
“Tort claims seek monetary damages,” he said. “There are some economic losses, but the main damages claimed will be emotional distress damages which our law leaves to a jury to put a monetary value on.”
Rowland pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated assault in October. As part of a plea agreement with the Bingham County Prosecutor’s Office, other felonies for aggravated battery and the exhibition of a deadly weapon were dismissed.
He was sentenced to 10 days in county jail and three years of probation.
With the guilty plea, Rowland resigned his position as sheriff and penned a letter accepting full responsibility for his actions.
A letter written by Craig Rowland on Aug. 22, 2022.
The sentence was part of the criminal side of the incident, where this tort claim and potential lawsuit represent the civil side, Elison explained. Both sides of the system, he added, are important for maintaining accountability.
A notice of tort claim is, essentially, a warning that the plaintiffs — in this case the six victims — plan to file a lawsuit if the defendants — Rowland and the sheriff’s office — do not settle the claim beforehand.
Elison said the county has yet to respond to the legal documentation.
EastIdahoNews.com requested a comment from Bingham County. County Clerk Pam Eckhardt said that the county is not able to comment due to the matter being in litigation.
According to Elison, the tort claim names three major violations for which he believes the plaintiffs are eligible for financial relief. Intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as assault and battery are listed in the claim.
“In addition, Idaho recognizes a tort called ‘outrage’ for conduct that is too extreme and harmful to be socially acceptable,” Elison said. “We will claim that a society wanting to preserve gun rights should demand that people are responsible in their handling of firearms and that the conduct that night was extremely unacceptable and outrageous.”
As Elison explained, Rowland’s admission to police that he thought the girls were “drunk Indians” does play into the claim of an outrage tort. A manifestation of Rowland’s apparent biases toward Native Americans is something Elison will look to prove as part of the outrage claim.
With the time that has passed since the tort claim was served, a lawsuit could be filed “any time now,” Elison said, and must be filed no later than Nov. 9, 2023.
As to whether or not he believes he will need to file a lawsuit, Elison said, “I don’t know. That really depends on Bingham County.”
The post Bingham County Sheriff’s Office, former sheriff named plaintiffs in tort claim appeared first on East Idaho News.
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