Calling the lawsuit vile and malicious, Judge Allen Sharp threw out a case Dec. 6 that had been filed by a child molester against a library facilities manager and the library's security company.
The molester claimed that the library should have prevented him from harming the child. He said the security company and its supervisor should have called the police when they saw him trying to open doors on the third floor of the library. Because they did not stop him while he was casing the library, "an innocent boy was victimized as well as the State of Indiana, St. Joseph County, and myself Ladell Alexander," he claimed.
The court wrote:
...Ladell Alexander, by his own admission, molested an innocent boy. Though every decent and moral person wishes that he had been prevented from committing this hideous crime, no one owes Mr. Alexander anything for having not done so.
Alexander v. DBS Security and Ralph Takach, NO. 3:04-CV-703 AS, U.S. Dist. Ct. for the NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA, SOUTH BEND DIVISION 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24748, December 6, 2004, Decided
Minow comment: I think Judge Sharp expressed it well - every decent person wants to prevent this. Should the security company have noticed the suspicious behavior? Was the perpetrator acting any more suspiciously than the countless other odd library patrons we see? In any event, it would be crazy to hold the library liable to the perpetrator. (I can't find a way to write that last sentence without understating it.)
Public libraries are not safe places. Yes of course we should make them safe. We should make the parks and streets safe too. When you're open to the public, anyone can walk in. Should you close if you don't have enough staff to view all corners of the library? Virtually all libraries would need to close. Security guards are great (tho definitely .. not always) when a library can afford them, but even then there's no guarantee of safety, as in the Alexander case.
Again I ask, what is the library's responsibility in letting the public know that these horrible incidents occur in their beloved public libraries? What will stop parents from sending latchkey kids to the library for hours and hours?
Added later: I googled Ralph Takach (named in the lawsuit). According to Michael Stephens, Tame the Web (May 10th), Takach is a Crisis Prevention Institute Certified Trainer and recently gave a successful program on Preventing Violence in the Library - recognizing early warning signs of anger, keeping behavior from escalating. To me that looks like a library that takes security issues very seriously.
The case: Alexander v. DBS Security and Ralph Takach, December 6, 2004
OPINION: MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Ladell Alexander, a pro se prisoner, submitted a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review the merits of a prisoner complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. FED. R. CIV. PRO. 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, or any portion of a complaint, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The court applies the same standard under § 1915A as when addressing a motion under Rule 12(b)(6). Weiss v. Colley, 230 F.3d 1027 (7th Cir. 2000).
A claim may be dismissed only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Allegations of a pro se complaint are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Accordingly, pro se complaints are liberally construed.
In order to state a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Supreme Court requires only two elements: First, the plaintiff must allege that some person has deprived him of a federal right. Second, he must allege that the person who has deprived him of the right acted under color of state law. These elements may be put forth in a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). In reviewing the complaint on a motion to dismiss, no more is required from plaintiff's allegations of intent than what would satisfy Rule 8's notice pleading minimum and Rule 9(b)'s requirement that motive and intent be pleaded generally.
Alvarado v. Litscher, 267 F.3d 648, 651 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations, quotation marks and ellipsis omitted).
Mr. Alexander is currently incarcerated for criminal confinement and child molesting. He brings this lawsuit attempting to collect, for himself, one million dollars from those he alleges should have, but did not, prevent him from committing these crimes. Specifically he alleges that the security company and its supervisor should have called the police when they saw him trying to open doors on the third floor of the library. Mr. Alexander alleges that because they did not stop him while he was casing the library, "an innocent boy was victimized as well as the State of Indiana, St. Joseph County, and myself Ladell Alexander." Complaint at 7.
Ladell Alexander, by his own admission, molested an innocent boy. Though every decent and moral person wishes that he had been prevented from committing this hideous crime, no one owes Mr. Alexander anything for having not done so.
This claim is vile and malicious and this case is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. P 1915A.
IT IS SO ORDERED. ENTERED: December 6, 2004 ALLEN SHARP, JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT