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Civil rights lawsuit against Wyoming deputies dismissed

April 28, 2020 GMT

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against two Wyoming sheriff’s deputies who interrogated a woman about her sexual history and preferences after she reported a sexual assault.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported Monday that a judge ruled Friday the woman’s allegation of a civil rights violation was “all but impossible” to pursue.

Judge Alan Johnson said he did not condone the behavior of the deputies.

Neither an attorney for the plaintiff nor for the Albany County Sheriff’s Office immediately responded to requests for comment.

The Albany County deputies, Sgt. Christian Handley and Aaron Gallegos, investigated a sexual assault claim against a University of Wyoming student in February 2017.

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The sheriff’s office did not recommend the case for criminal prosecution.

The woman’s lawsuit included a transcript of a meeting in which Gallegos says he thought that because the woman consented to sex with the man one evening she inherently consented to sex with him the next morning.

“He is wrong,” Johnson wrote in his ruling.

Yet the judge ruled the doctrine of qualified immunity prohibited a ruling in the plaintiff’s favor.

The doctrine requires a lawsuit against a government official to show the deputies violated her constitutional right to equal protection by treating her differently than a straight woman or a man. The plaintiff is a lesbian.

The judge wrote the case failed to provide sufficient legal evidence in support of the woman’s argument.

“The court recognizes it may be all but impossible to show another individual alleging sexual assault was treated differently, given the sensitive nature of such a matter. However, the court cannot rewrite the law,” the judge wrote.