Judge dismisses Plainville patrolwoman’s lawsuit against superiors in connection to cop love triangle case

Originally published for The Sun Chronicle on March 14, 2017.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Plainville Patrolwoman Julie Ann Barrett against two of her superiors in the so-called love triangle saga involving officers from two town police departments.

However, North Attleboro police officials and the Town of Plainville remain on the hook, and the suit against them could go to trial later this year.

The flurry of litigation stems from an incident last July in which Barrett’s live-in boyfriend, North Attleboro police Sgt. David Gould, allegedly beat Barrett and Plainville police Detective James Moses — allegedly after he caught them kissing in a car parked on a dark and deserted Plainville road.

North Attleboro selectmen have since fired Gould.

Gould faces criminal assault charges in connection with the alleged beating of Moses, but the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office dropped charges against him in connection with Barrett’s alleged beating, saying she refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

Barrett filed suit against North Attleboro and Plainville police officials and the Town of Plainville in December in connection with departmental investigations into the July incident.

She alleges her personal cellphone was seized unconstituionally in connection with the investigation, a violation of her right to privacy, and that she was subjected to “threats, intimidation and coercion” in the police probe.

Named in the suit were the Town of Plainville, Plainville Police Chief James Alfred, Plainville police Lt. James Floyd, North Attleboro Police Chief John Reilly, North Attleboro police Capt. Joseph DiRenzo and unnamed state police and district attorney personnel.

U.S. District Judge William Young dismissed the suit against Alfred and Floyd earlier this month.

Barrett alleged her police superiors repeatedly told her she had to cooperate with the internal investigation into Gould, despite her attempts to stay out of the matter. Barrett said Plainville police coerced her into handing over her phone for the investigation, then unconstitutionally shared the information with North Attleboro police.

In their motion to dismiss, Alfred and Floyd said their actions were in line with the way other officers would have acted in similar circumstances. The filing said police only encouraged Barrett to hand over her cellphone — and warned, if she did not voluntarily do so, state police would move forward with a search warrant.

The filing also argued a municipality may not be held liable for an employee’s wrongdoing — contending that the Town of Plainville should not be held accountable for Alfred’s actions as police chief.

The lawsuit remains in place against the town, however.

In a separate filing, North Attleboro’s Reilly and DiRenzo called for a dismissal of the lawsuit in which Barrett claimed they “acted in bad faith” and violated her right to privacy by accessing her cellphone information without permission.

Barrett said when submitting her cellphone for search, she was under the impression the information would be shared only with the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office in the criminal case — not North Attleboro’s internal investigation into Gould.

Barrett alleged her cellphone contained “personal and sensitive information” and the breach of privacy by North Attleboro police was unconstitutional.

In their motion to dismiss, Reilly and DiRenzo said there was “no unreasonable, substantial or serious interference with Ms. Barrett’s privacy” during the investigation.

However, the judge let stand the complaint against them.

Reilly and DiRenzo submitted a request last week seeking a jury trial, likely to be held later this year.

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