Brutality case thrown out of court

Judge says allegations that Bethlehem police beat and sodomized suspect are without merit

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed against the Town of Bethlehem and several individual officers stemming from an allegation of excessive force and sexual abuse during an arrest.

Chief Judge Gary L. Sharp dismissed the lawsuit filed by John A. Robinson of Selkirk, which was filed in 2008 following Robinson’s arrest. Sharp dismissed the lawsuit for procedural issues and because he “found the claims to have no merit.”

“This is complete vindication for the town, and the officers who had their names dragged through the mud during this very difficult situation,” said John Bailey, an attorney with Bailey, Kelleher & Johnson, P.C., who represented the town in the case.

The lawsuit was filed in May of 2008 after Robinson was arrested on charges he approached two teenage girls walking on the side of the road and offered them $20 if they allowed him to sniff their feet. Robinson signed a statement admitting to the incident, but later said it was coerced through violence. Robinson also denied the sniffing incident in later interviews with The Spotlight.

Robinson claimed he was falsely arrested by Bethlehem police officers, and the charges were fabricated to “embarrass and discredit him” for a lawsuit he had against a heavy equipment repair shop in town. He said on the day of his arrest, he was beaten by the officers and then sodomized with a nightstick. He also claimed the incident left him paralyzed, and he later lost his job.

Robinson represented himself in the case. He was seeking $75 million in damages.

Bailey argued that Robinson failed to provide proof that the alleged incident had taken place and that Robinson had “given so many different accounts of occurrences on the day of the incident that it would be near impossible for a jury to believe he was subjected to excessive force or any other abuse.”

At the time of the arrest, Town Attorney James Potter said the police department held an investigation into the lawsuit’s claims.

From the arrest, Robinson was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and harassment. He was arraigned in Bethlehem Town Court before being sent to the Albany County Correctional Facility in lieu of $1,000 bail. The case was later transferred to the Town of Colonie.

Bailey said Robinson will not be able to appeal the court’s decision because time has expired, and he has been “time-barred” from doing so.

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