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Ex-Police Chief Affair Lawsuit Tossed; 8th Cir. Appeal Possible

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on March 11, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A district court judge has dismissed a woman's lawsuit against the city of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and its former police chief Alex Moreno.

The suit involves dramatic allegations and tales of intrigue: police power, a sexual rendezvous, and harassment.

Albeit a lusty page-turner, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf was unmoved by Tamara Villanueva's claims and dismissed the suit.

Neighborhood Watch Affair Alleged

Villanueva alleged that she had a month-long sexual affair with then-Police Chief Moreno that began while she served as a neighborhood watch coordinator. Though this isn't the first (or most salacious) affair with a cop, it's still mighty scandalous.

In a lawsuit filed against the city and Moreno in October 2011, Villanueva alleged that her rights to equal protection and due process were violated after she ended the affair with Moreno, The Associated Press reports.

She claimed that Moreno and the police department failed to follow up on domestic abuse and harassment claims against her husband because Moreno had a pattern of discriminating against women. She also alleged Moreno and other officers harassed her after she filed the lawsuit.

Moreno fessed up to the affair (scandalous!) as the lawsuit gained public attention and eventually resigned on October 1, 2012. But he denied all of her substantive allegations.

Kopf Puts Kabosh on Saucy Suit

Judge Kopf was not convinced about Villanueva's claims that Moreno and others harassed her following the affair because: police reports documented that officers had responded to her home; Villanueva could not identify specific persons that she said had been harassing her; and she also could not show -- aside from her own beliefs -- evidence that Moreno had been involved in any harassment, the Star Herald reports.

Kopf also balked at allegations that Moreno and others don't take complaints by women seriously. Admittedly, courts within the Eighth Circuit have a tendency to side with the boys -- especially in anger-inducing rape cases. But Kopf assuredly ruled there was indeed evidence that showed police in Scottsbluff investigated such complaints, including her husband's arrest history for domestic violence.

Finally, Kopf rejected Villanueva's claim that Moreno preyed on her vulnerable mental condition in conducting the affair, allegedly causing her emotional distress. Kopf noted in his ruling that Villanueva's own attorney said she referred to the affair as consensual.

He Said, She Said

One of Villanueva's attorneys said an appeal to the Eighth Circuit is likely, because "we believe there was sufficient evidence to make the matter a jury question at a minimum."

If this is, in fact, a classic tale of "he said, she said" and winds up before the Eighth Circuit, this could get interesting -- especially if it's because someone was spurned by the heated neighborhood watch love affair. 'Til then, we'll get the popcorn ready.

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