Lawsuit Filed Against Dade Investigator
By REBECCA HAZEN
Christopher Parker has filed a lawsuit for malicious prosecution against Cynthia Thurman, a Dade County Sheriff’s Office Investigator.
Parker is a Dade County native, where he was a volunteer firefighter for a few years, and is now living in Catoosa County.
The lawsuit states, “As a result of Defendant’s actions, Plaintiff has suffered life-altering damage in both his personal and professional life.”
According to the lawsuit, on June 11, 2018, Parker and his girlfriend, Hannah Sharp, engaged in sexual relations. Parker and Sharp lived together at the time.
“Immediately after their sexual encounter, Ms. Sharp began crying, stated she was upset, and eventually locked herself in the bathroom for at least an hour. Mr. Parker was confused by Ms. Sharp’s actions and attempted to comfort her several times,” the lawsuit says.
Parker called Sharp’s sister, Summer Raley, out of concern. Raley convinced Sharp to meet with her. Raley is employed as a deputy for the Dade County Sheriff’s office. Raley called her co-worker Thurman, and told her that Sharp had accused Parker of rape.
Sharp had also worked at the Dade County Sheriff’s Office. The lawsuit states that in addition to being co-workers Thurman was also friends with both Sharp and Raley.
Thurman advised Raley to bring her sister to the Sexual Assault Center, where Thurman interviewed Sharp.
Raley, Tonya Sharp (Hannah’s mother), Rachel Robinson (Director of the Sexual Assault Center), and Katelyn Sorenson (a victim’s advocate from the District Attorney’s office) were all present during the interview.
“During the interview, Ms. Sharp admitted to Officer Thurman she had recently become angry with Mr. Parker and that she decided to end her relationship with Mr. Parker just the day before. Ms. Sharp admits she never objected to Mr. Parker’s actions during the alleged rape(s). Ms. Sharp also informed Officer Thurman that Mr. Parker would claim Sharp desired intercourse, told him yes, and rolled towards him to initiate sex,” the lawsuit says. “There is no known physical evidence, such as injuries, abrasions, bruises, or marks of any kind on Ms. Sharp’s body, which would tend to show an assault on Ms. Sharp.”
Thurman appeared before the Magistrate Court of Dade County, on the afternoon of June 11, 2018, and applied for a warrant for Parker’s arrest.
The lawsuit states that Thurman did not attempt to contact Parker, visit the scene of the incident, talk to witnesses not present at the Sexual Assault Center, or obtain any additional evidence before applying for a warrant for Parker’s arrest.
Parker was arrested on the evening of June 11, 2018, for the alleged rape of Sharp.
After his arrest, Parker was interrogated for over two and a half hours by Thurman and Detective Irwin.
According to the lawsuit, Parker maintains that the sexual relations were consensual, and offered multiple times to undergo a polygraph examination.
Parker said that he was unaware of Sharp wanting to end the relationship and suggested that the accusation was her attempt to leave him. Parker also alleges that Sharp has accused other men of sexual assault in the past.
Parker was confined to the Dade County Jail. He was then transferred to Floyd County Prison, where he was held for eight days.
According to the lawsuit, “On June 22, 2018, a hearing was held in the Superior Court of Dade County in which the presiding judge ordered Mr. Parker to post a bond of $100,000 to be released from custody. As a condition of his release, Mr. Parker was required to submit to electronic ankle monitoring.”
Parker had an ankle monitor from June 22, 2018 to Dec. 27, 2019.
On Oct. 5, 2020, the Dade County District Attorney’s office moved to dismiss Warrant #18-785A due to “insufficient evidence to warrant a reasonable probability of conviction.” The Magistrate Court of Dade County granted the State’s motion on Oct. 20, 2020. The District Attorney’s office never indicted Mr. Parker for this alleged offense.
Christopher K. Rhodes of Rhodes Law, P.C. in Ringgold, is representing Parker.
“There was no physical evidence of any sort. It was just a classic he said, she said,” Rhodes said. “He was confined on house arrest for a long time because of this allegation. Law enforcement has a duty to look at both sides.”
“I just found out about it, so I really cannot comment yet,” Thurman told the Sentinel.
The Sentinel reached out to the Dade County District Attorney, but did not hear back before press time.
Rhodes issued this statement of behalf of Parker:
“Mr. Parker’s wrongful arrest has permanently damaged almost every aspect of his life. He feels that he will always struggle to clear his name after being falsely accused of such a serious crime. Mr. Parker also believes that had the investigation not been led by his ex-girlfriend’s friends and relatives, he would have never been arrested. Mr. Parker hopes this suit will help him restore his reputation and ensure no one else in Dade County is falsely accused of a crime they did not commit.”
According to Rhodes, there will eventually be a trial, but considering the lawsuit was just filed, it will take some time.
“This is the first big step. The next thing would depositions, when I will question the officers involved in the investigation,” Rhodes said.