A Germantown man who says that his female probation officer had sex with him when he was 17 may not sue the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice, the woman's employer at the time, a Montgomery County judge ruled yesterday.
"How was it foreseeable that a rogue probation officer would behave this way?" Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Durke G. Thompson demanded before granting the state's request that the complaint against the state be dismissed.
Thompson said he saw no evidence that DJJ officials knew of inappropriate behavior between probation officer Nancy Aciares and Eric Dantas; the allegations are that she had sex with him and gave him illegal drugs in 1996. Dantas's attorney said he has given permission to make his name public.
George R.A. Doumar, the attorney, said afterward that he was disappointed by the ruling and would have to discuss with Dantas, now 20, and his parents whether to proceed against the remaining defendant, Aciares.
"The judge has made it impossible to sue the state for sexual abuse," said Doumar, who argued the state was negligent in its hiring, retention and supervision of Aciares. Doumar noted that one of Aciares's bosses has acknowledged that, a few years later, another probation officer under his supervision was accused of having sexual relations with a juvenile she supervised.
The allegations, detailed in Dantas's October 1998 complaint, led to Aciares's dismissal. Aciares's attorney, Lawrence Fletcher-Hill, an assistant attorney general, said his client vigorously denies having had sex with Dantas or giving him drugs or alcohol.
But the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services investigated and reported in a Nov. 19, 1996, letter to Dantas's mother that "sexual abuse occurred." County police investigated and referred the case to the state's attorney's office, but no charges were ever filed, Doumas said.
Before ruling on the case yesterday, Thompson heard arguments from an attorney for The Washington Post Co., opposing another judge's earlier order that the case file be sealed and proceedings closed to the news media and the public.
Thompson ruled that the proceedings should be conducted publicly and the case file opened, after sensitive information about individuals' juvenile records is redacted.