Ryan Sceviour, a Massachusetts State Police trooper, was halfway through an evening shift on Oct. 16 when a seemingly routine call came in about a car crash. On a highway in Worcester, Mass., Alli Bibaud had slammed her Toyota Corolla into the guardrail. She and her passenger had survived, but Sceviour said the 30-year-old woman reeked of alcohol when he arrived on the scene.
A search of the car turned up a “heroin kit” containing needles and a metal spoon, Sceviour wrote in his police report, which was published by the Boston Globe. Bibaud said she had performed sexual acts to pay for the drugs and had offered to perform sexual favors for Sceviour in exchange for leniency, the report stated. During the ride to jail, she claimed her father was a judge, but the trooper was skeptical.
Two days later, on his day off, Sceviour awoke to a loud knock on his door. A fellow state trooper told him to go immediately to the barracks in Holden. When he got there, his supervisors ordered him to delete “negative and derogatory” statements in his report on Bibaud’s arrest, saying he could be fired if he refused. Bibaud, it turned out, was the daughter of Judge Timothy Bibaud, a state district judge who presided over a drug court.
Sceviour, 29, is now suing the Massachusetts State Police and his commanders, alleging they forced him to unlawfully edit his report and tamper with court documents. Their actions have caused him “damage to his reputation, have negatively impacted his employment, and have caused him severe emotional distress,” read the complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
The story on the editing of the police report first surfaced in October in a local blog, Turtleboy Sports, which said it had heard from several state troopers who expressed “outrage.” Other local media picked up the story soon after.
The State Police have said from the beginning that Col. Richard D. McKeon was within his rights to order the offending statements removed after finding that they weren’t relevant to the case. A spokesman for the agency told the Globe on Tuesday: “The revision consisted of removal of what the Colonel and senior commanders felt was a sensationalistic and inflammatory directly-quoted statement that made no contribution to proving the elements of the crimes with which she was charged.”
Judge Timothy Bibaud has maintained that he had no hand in the decision to alter the report. He told Worcester Magazine last month that his daughter was “sick” and that the family was trying to help her get treatment. “It’s a bald-faced lie that I orchestrated it,” he told the magazine. “I never read the report. … My sole concern was toward my kid.”
Sceviour’s lawsuit says he responded to Bibaud’s car crash with another trooper, Ali Rei. After Bibaud failed multiple sobriety tests, he said, they arrested her and charged her with operating while under the influence of narcotics and liquor. She was released soon after. It was not clear if she had entered a plea, and her attorney couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
When he was called into the barracks two days later, Sceviour was first met by a lieutenant who said he had been ordered by his supervisor, Maj. Susan Anderson, to issue him a written reprimand for “the negative and derogatory statements included within the gist of your report.” His sergeant was also reprimanded for approving the report, according to the lawsuit.
Then Sceviour met with Anderson. The details about sexual acts had to be cut, she told him, and handed him a copy of the report with proposed edits written in red and black ink, according to the lawsuit.
Sceviour protested. Making the proposed edits was “morally vacant,” he said. Jeffrey Gilbert, a police union representative who was present for the meeting, came to Sceviour’s defense, saying the trooper would only make revisions under direct orders.
“This is an order, Jeff, we all have bosses,” Anderson responded, according to the lawsuit.
Gilbert added that Sceviour would be charged with insubordination and subject to discharge if he continued to refuse.
“If this was some random person and not a judge’s kid,” Sceviour said, according to the lawsuit, “none of this would be happening.”
Eventually, Sceviour agreed. His lawsuit says he was forced to alter the report under “illegal coercion” by his commanders. He also alleges that McKeon, Anderson and others tried to have the original report “surreptitiously removed” from the court file and replaced with the altered report. State Police deny this.
When news broke about the dispute the following week, a state police spokesperson made “false and derogatory statements” about Sceviour, in particular that his report contained “improper statements” that violated department standards.
The lawsuit names McKeon, Anderson, the State Police and “John Does” as defendants. It alleges civil conspiracy, defamation and violations of Sceviour’s constitutional rights.
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