Settlement reached in Grant Co. man's civil rights suit against former deputy

Lawrence Smith Aug. 29, 2012, 5:39am


ELKINS – A Grant County man has reached a settlement in a civil rights suit he filed against a former deputy sheriff he claims raped him following an arrest for driving under the influence.

U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey on Aug. 28 dismissed Dylan Riggleman's suit against former Grant County Sheriff Art Puffenbarger and former Deputy Tony Dixon Cooper when the sides announced they reached agreed to settle it following mediation on July 13. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Repeated telephone calls left for Daniel James, Wendy Greve and Harry A. Smith III, attorneys for Riggleman, Puffenbarger and Dixon, respectively, were not returned by press time.

In his suit, Riggleman, 22, accused Cooper, 34, of raping him in a secluded area in Hampshire County on June 3, 2010, while transporting him from Grant Memorial Hospital in Petersburg to the Potomac Highlands Regional Jail in Augusta following an arrest for DUI of a controlled substance. According to the suit, Cooper pulled over to a gravel lot along U.S. 50, asked Riggleman to exit the cruiser to provide a urine sample and a short time later forced him to perform oral sex on him.

Also, Riggleman alleges Dixon forcefully sodomized him before putting him back into the cruiser and onto the regional jail. The charge was later dismissed after Riggleman lodged a complaint against Dixon with the State Police who, aided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, found Riggleman's story credible, and later charged Dixon with two counts of second degree sexual assault.

Though Dixon was fired from the Department in October 2010 after being placed on paid administrative leave, a jury on July 13, 2011 acquitted him on both charges.

In addition to ones for civil rights violations, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Dixon, Riggleman made one for negligent hiring, retention, investigation and discipline against Puffenbarger who hired Dixon in 2006. Two years later, he lost his bid for re-election when Emory "Bill" Feaster upended him in the Republican primary.

Initially, Riggleman's parents, Timothy and Joyce, were co-plaintiffs in the suit. On March 1, Bailey dismissed them from the suit since they were not present during Dixon's alleged assault and battery of Dylan and therefore could not make a valid claim for emotional distress.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number 11-cv-63

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