Casper Woman Wins $1 Million Judgment from Former Probation Officer
A federal judge on Wednesday awarded a $1 million judgment against a former Wyoming Department of Corrections officer for pressuring a Casper woman on probation to send him sexual comments and pictures or risk being sent to jail.
There was no question that Jaret Maul violated the woman's civil rights, and the damages fall into three categories, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal wrote following a court hearing on Monday.
"The evidence established that Defendant's actions toward Plaintiff, while he was her probation officer in 2018, caused her physical and psychological injuries from which she has suffered. The Court also concludes Plaintiff suffered lost income," Freudenthal wrote.
That damage amounts to $200,000, she wrote.
Freudenthal awarded the woman $300,000 for future emotional and physical distress and lost income opportunities considering her life expectancy.
The woman also asked for punitive damages, which are awarded when a defendant exhibits "'reckless or callous disregard of, or indifference to, the rights or safety of others....,'" Freudenthal wrote, citing case law.
Maul did just that, and was penalized $500,000 for it, she wrote.
"As such, an award of punitive damages is warranted for specific and general deterrence as well as to punish Defendant for his violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights," Freudenthal wrote.
On May 14, the woman sued Maul for violating her 14th Amendment rights of equal protection under the law and for violating her Eighth Amendment rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, according to the initial complaint filed by her attorney Ian Sandefer.
Also in May, Department of Corrections spokesman Mark Horan said Maul had not been a department employee since Dec. 5.
The complaint said the harassment began in May 2018 after Natrona County Circuit Court placed the woman on one year of probation for first-time misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
The court assigned Maul as her probation officer, and it ordered her to follow the rules or else have her probation revoked, according to the complaint.
After three months, Maul told the woman he would be asking for her to be placed on unsupervised probation or be discharged from probation because she had paid her fines and was fully compliant with the rules.
He asked the woman to add him as a friend to her Snapchat account, she accepted his request, he began sending her unsolicited sexualized comments and pictures, asked her to send him nude photos of herself, and made explicit statements of the sexual acts he wanted.
If she didn't comply, she was concerned Maul could revoke her probation and that her children would be taken from her, according to the complaint.
An amended complaint was filed Sept. 6, and was substantially the same as the initial complaint.
But Maul did not respond to the amended complaint, and a default judgment was entered against him on Oct. 2.
In his report of findings of fact and conclusions of law, Sandefer on Monday wrote that Maul was acting in the scope of his duties as a parole officer when he pressured the woman, which was a violation of Department of Corrections guidelines.
Maul, through his attorney Caleb Wilkins, during a deposition invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when asked about the pictures, videos and texts, Sandefer wrote.
The woman also introduced testimony from a therapist who said she had counseled the woman when she was 19 because of past trauma and mental health issues; that she had been the victim of sexual abuse as a minor; and she had bipolar disorder.
As a result the therapist testified the woman was easily manipulated and Maul took advantage of that, Sandefer wrote.
The woman had been making progress in counseling, but the therapist testified Maul's actions caused her to regress and experience shame, embarrassment, negative views about herself, and feelings of being used as a sexual object, Sandefer wrote.
The therapist, he wrote, "testified that the injuries Defendant caused Plaintiff are long term injuries that can be treated; however, the psychological harm is likely to recur during Plaintiff's life when triggered by external events in Plaintiff's life."