In “City paying legal fees of officer being sued,” Clark Kauffman reports for the Des Moines Register on a defamation lawsuit brought by former Iowa Polygraph Association president James Reistroffer against three members of the association’s ethics committee:
Des Moines taxpayers are paying the legal fees of a police officer accused of abusing his position in a private organization of polygraph experts.
Sgt. David M. McDermott is one of three defendants in a lawsuit filed late last year by James Reistroffer, former president of the Iowa Polygraph Association.
Reistroffer is claiming that McDermott, Jan Caylor and Dennis Wilbur defamed him, and he is seeking unspecified damages. The defendants in the case have denied any wrongdoing.
Reistroffer says the three, acting in their capacity as the ethics committee of the Iowa Polygraph Association, conducted an unauthorized investigation into his criticism of another polygraph examiner’s techniques, then reported their “false and defamatory” findings to the American Polygraph Association.
Reistroffer says that as a result of the ethics committee’s actions, his reputation was damaged and he was removed as president of the Iowa association.
Although the lawsuit alleges no wrongdoing by McDermott in his capacity as a city police officer, the city is paying for his defense, and Assistant City Attorney Angela Althoff is handling the case on McDermott’s behalf.
One of McDermott’s co-defendants, Caylor, is a polygraph examiner for the Iowa Department of Corrections. Caylor has retained private counsel to defend her. The state is not assisting with her defense.
Des Moines City Attorney Bruce Bergman said the city is defending McDermott because his job description with the city calls for him to serve on the Iowa Polygraph Association’s board or ethics committee.
“The reason he was on the board is that it’s a job expectation,” Bergman said. “In other words, we wanted to have a City of Des Moines police officer on the board.”
Deputy City Attorney Mark Godwin said, “Mike was serving on the board basically at the request of the department. And so we felt that he was working when he was doing that since the department requested him to do it. And we, of course, have a statutory duty to defend and indemnify him.”
Godwin said he is not sure whether McDermott was paid by the city for the hours he spent working for the association.
Reporter Clark Kauffman can be reached at (515) 284-8233 or email@example.com.