Man cleared in ricin letters case sues 2nd suspect
JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — A man who was ultimately cleared of charges that he sent poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others has filed a defamation lawsuit against the current suspect in the case.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday says James Everett Dutschke framed Paul Kevin Curtis when he, Everett Dutschke, sent ricin-tainted letters on April 8 to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Sadie Holland, a Mississippi judge.
Curtis says he was subjected to a terrifying ordeal that began April 17 when he was arrested.
The charges were dropped six days later when the investigation shifted to Dutschke.
“Dutschke’s actions caused Curtis to lose income in that once he was arrested and portrayed as a terrorist and a criminal he was no longer marketable in his chosen field,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit seeks damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
The ricin-tainted letters contained statements that Curtis had often used on his Facebook page, including the line, “I am KC and I approve this message.” The letters also contained the phrase “Missing Pieces,” the same title as an unpublished book Curtis wrote about his belief that there’s a black market for body parts in the United States.
Judge Sadie Holland was the only intended recipient to receive a letter. The others were intercepted before reaching Obama or Wicker.
After his arrest, Curtis said he was framed and pointed investigators to Dutschke, who he had feuded with over the years.
Dutschke was arrested April 27 at his home also in Mississippi.
He is charged with five counts, including developing, producing and stockpiling ricin and threatening the president.
The indictment says Dutschke mailed the letters in part to retaliate against Curtis.
Dutschke is being held without bond. He has an Oct. 7 trial date, but his new lawyer has asked for a delay.
Ken Coghlan, who represents Dutschke in the criminal case, did not immediately respond to a phone message Thursday.
The accused is a martial arts instructor who had unsuccessfully run for public offices in Mississippi. He has denied any involvement.
Curtis’ lawsuit says that he made comments about Dutschke online after Dutschke was arrested in 2012 on charges of lewd behavior and in 2013 when he was charged with child molestation.
Follow Holbrook Mohr on Twitter at http://twitter.com/holbrookmohr