Lawsuit dismissed after woman’s photo was used by mistake

Woman wrongly accused. (WDTN Photo)
Woman wrongly accused. (WDTN Photo)

SIDNEY, Ohio (WDTN) – The civil lawsuit against Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart has been dismissed.

2 NEWS Investigates first told you a picture of Christine Hughes was used during a press conference showing a lineup of women convicted of welfare fraud. The problem was, Hughes has never been arrested.

Sheriff John Lenhart and civilian Patrick Goldschmidt were named in the lawsuit. Goldschmidt is the IT employee who pulled Hughes’s photo from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and wrongly connected her to a welfare fraud case.  The sheriff’s office said it turns out there are actually three women in Shelby County named Christine Hughes.

Chief Deputy James Frye told 2 NEWS Investigates in April they made a mistake.

Obviously. Obviously, but at the same time we’ll stand up when we’ve done something right and we’ll stand up when we’ve done something wrong,” said Chief Dep.Frye.

Goldschmidt was given a written reprimand and a two day unpaid suspension.  The sheriff’s office has also changed its policy.  From now on, two sworn officers, detectives actually working the cases, will check photos before they are shared.

Frye said, “I think we did everything in our power to correct it. We realize we made a mistake.  We have fixed it.”

Last week, Hughes’ lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Robert Lindeman with prejudice and Hughes was ordered to pay the costs of the matter.

In his decision, Judge Lindeman said the defendants were acting in their official capacity with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office when the photo was used, therefore they are immune from liability as employees of a political subdivision.

He also found the claims did not rise to the level of intentional infliction of emotional distress actions.

Hughes told 2 NEWS Investigates in April she’s concerned about the lasting impacts of their mistake.

“I don’t know how you get rid of it.  You know, when I am done with school I’ll have to apply for jobs.  They do advance searches. All of that stuff is still on the internet,'” said Hughes.

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