Former Laurel School softball coach settles with Shaker Heights over dropped rape case

September 22, 2018

Former Laurel School softball coach settles with Shaker Heights over dropped rape case

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A former Laurel School softball coach whose rape case was dismissed after a judge determined a Shaker Heights police detective lied under oath at trial has agreed to a $300,000 settlement.

The settlement on behalf of detective Jessica Page closed the lawsuit Mark Newton and his wife Patricia Rideout filed over his criminal case and how authorities handled it.

Newton and Rideout filed the suit in November, saying the former student and her parents defamed Newton’s character and levied false accusations as part of a conspiracy to extract a payout from Newton and Laurel School, an all-girls private school in the east side suburb.

The lawsuit also said Page violated Newton’s constitutional rights by withholding a drawing the former student made during an interrogation.

The settlement was signed Aug. 15 and released to cleveland.com on Friday afternoon. Claims against the city of Shaker Heights and other police personnel were also dropped either by a judge or by agreement of both sides during litigation, and the suit says the settlement is not an admission of liabiity by any city defendant.

Both the city of Shaker Heights and Larry Zukerman, an attorney for Newton and Rideout, declined comment about the settlement, citing a provision in the agreement that bars them from discussing the case beyond acknowledging its closure.

Newton, 60, was arrested in September 2016 after a grand jury indicted him on two counts each of rape, sexual battery, kidnapping and abduction. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Nancy Margaret Russo dismissed the case against Newton in May 2017 after she determined that Page went “rogue” and concealed from prosecutors and defense attorneys a drawing of the classroom where the student said Newton attacked her in 2013.

The drawing, the second one the student made, contradicted other evidence and was considered exculpatory, or favorable to Newton. Had Page handed over the drawing to prosecutors before they took the case to a grand jury, Newton might not have been indicted, Russo said.

The 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals in April upheld Russo’s decision to drop Newton’s charges, and the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

The student and her parents filed a counterclaim against Newton, which they dropped in August. U.S. District Judge James Gwin, while allowing key portions of the lawsuit go to trial, dismissed the claims against the student and her family in April.

Cleveland.com is withholding her name because she made rape accusations.

Shaker Heights police launched an internal investigation into Page’s handling of the case after Russo dismissed the case against Newton. Page is still employed with the city of Shaker Heights, city Law Director William Ondrey Gruber said Friday.

The city in December hired lawyer John Spellacy to serve as a special prosecutor. That investigation is still pending, Ondrey Gruber said.

Page later said in a deposition that she told then-Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Maggie Kane about the missing drawing before trial. That claim contradicted her testimony during Newton’s trial that she never told anyone about the drawing.

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