MADISON – A Boone County couple is suing a county commission, sheriff and deputy sheriff for falsely accusing them of an alleged kidnapping.
Mark Cornell and Gina Cornell – who are residents of Hillsboro, Ill. – filed a lawsuit Dec. 9 in Boone Circuit Court against the Boone County Commission, the Boone County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Randall White and deputy sheriff Billy Browning.
According to the complaint, Gina Cornell established temporary legal guardianship of her infant granddaughter through the family court of Kanawha County, and the infant resides with the Cornells in Hillsboro. Gina Cornell says the guardianship was sought due to concerns relating to the well-being of the infant, the suit states, and Browning objected to the guardianship.
According to the suit, Browning made a threatening telephone call to the Cornells Dec. 12, 2013, and told them if they did not return the infant to Kasey Ratliff, the biological mother, he would issue a warrant for their arrest.
On Dec. 13, Browning contacted officer Tim Sheldon of the Hillsboro Police Department and reported the child as kidnapped, the suit states. According to the suit, Sheldon visited the Cornell home and required Mark Cornell to answer questions. During the visit, the suit states, Sheldon concluded the Cornells did not engage in criminal behavior but despite Sheldon's investigation, Browning still filed a false report with the Hillsboro Police Department. The Cornells allege they requested additional help from Sheriff White but he refused.
According to the suit, the Boone County Commission, Boone County Sheriff's Office, White and Browning abused their position by filing a false report, defamed them, and were negligent in the investigation. The Cornells allege they suffered intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The Cornells seek compensatory damages in excess of the limits of Boone Circuit Court. They are represented by attorney Todd W. Reed of Charleston.
Boone Circuit Court case number: 14-C-227