ACLU Sues York County Sheriff’s Department and Jail over Unreasonable Arrest and Treatment of Waterboro Man
Alfred, ME – The unnecessary and unlawful arrest of a Waterboro man and his subsequent treatment in the York County Jail violated his constitutional rights, according to a lawsuit filed today by the ACLU of Maine. The ACLU filed the lawsuit against the York County Sheriff’s Office and individual actors on behalf of Caleb Gaul, who was arrested, strip searched and held in jail after he asked a school bus driver who was parked on Gaul’s private property and blocking his driveway to move the bus.
“These sorts of unnecessary arrests damage lives, waste resources, and serve no good purpose” said Emma Bond, staff attorney with the ACLU of Maine. “It’s time to end this misuse of our justice system and stop filling our jails with people who don’t need to be there.”
On January 30, 2018, Caleb Gaul drove down his steep, icy driveway to ensure the path was clear for his wife, who was following in their van to take their three small children to school. He encountered a school bus at the end of the driveway, parked on the Gauls’ private property, with the bus driver waiting to start morning pick-up.
When Mr. Gaul asked the driver to move the bus, which was blocking the family from leaving, the driver refused. Mr. Gaul pulled his truck in front of the bus, parked, and went back up the driveway to tell his wife not to drive down. The bus driver, who did not have permission to be on the Gauls’ property, then called his supervisor at the school transportation department, who called the sheriff’s department.
Despite using no force or intimidation, Mr. Gaul was arrested for obstructing government administration, handcuffed in front of his young children, and transported to the York County Jail in a police cruiser, where he was strip searched and held for five hours before making bail. All charges against him were later dropped.
Mr. Gaul is an audio engineer who often works for government and military clients that require background checks to enter their secure facilities. Despite all charges against him being dropped, he will still have to report the arrest when asked about his criminal history on future job applications.
“I was humiliated, my wife and children were terrified, and my future employment was jeopardized – all because I tried to get an illegally parked bus off my private property,” said Mr. Gaul. “I don’t understand why anyone thinks this is a good use of law enforcement or taxpayer resources, and I hope the sheriff’s department will think twice before trying to make an example out of someone else.”
The lawsuit alleges the arrest and treatment of Mr. Gaul violated the constitutional prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure and guarantee of safety and due process. The ACLU filed the lawsuit in York County Superior Court against York County, the York County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Morneau, and two unnamed employees of York County Jail.
The complaint is available here: https://www.aclumaine.org/sites/default/files/gaul_complaint.pdf
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.