Crime

Long-running false-arrest lawsuit ends with victory for county, Lindquist

The decision, a victory for the county and Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, ends four years of grinding, bitter litigation marked by multiple appeals, recriminations, discovery battles and related legal actions that continue to percolate in other venues.
The decision, a victory for the county and Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, ends four years of grinding, bitter litigation marked by multiple appeals, recriminations, discovery battles and related legal actions that continue to percolate in other venues. phaley@thenewstribune.com

Apart from paper formalities, a long-running false-arrest lawsuit against Pierce County is over, and the plaintiff will walk away with nothing.

Former Longbranch resident Lynn Dalsing, 49, who was charged twice with sex crimes against her daughter and saw both criminal cases dismissed, moved this week to end her suit against the county and its prosecutors.

The decision, a victory for the county and Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, ends four years of grinding, bitter litigation marked by multiple appeals, recriminations, discovery battles and related legal actions that continue to percolate in other venues.

The county has spent $531,762 to defend against the Dalsing suit, according to public records.

The decision, a clear victory for the county and prosecutor Mark Lindquist, ends four years of grinding, bitter litigation marked by multiple appeals, recriminations, discovery battles and related legal actions that continue to percolate in other venues. The county has spent $531,762 to defend the Dalsing suit, according to public records.

Via email, Lindquist praised the outcome.

“We will always fight to protect children, fight to make our community safer and fight for what’s right,” he said. “As President Lincoln said, truth is the best vindication.”

Dalsing’s attorney, Fred Diamondstone, said his client chose to withdraw “due to the emotional costs of going forward.”

Richard Jolley, one of the private attorneys hired to defend the suit, said the reason for the dismissal was simpler: The county was going to win.

“Diamondstone was going to get creamed,” he said. “It would have been an injustice to put a dime in (Dalsing’s) pocket.”

Jolley provided The News Tribune a pair of documents, not filed with the court, that he said would have damaged Dalsing’s lawsuit. One, a letter from Dalsing’s daughter, now 13, charged that Dalsing failed to protect the daughter from sexual abuse by her father, Michael Dalsing. Jolley added that the daughter was willing to testify against her mother.

The other document, a declaration signed by a woman unrelated to the Dalsing family, accused Lynn Dalsing and her husband of sexually abusing her in the past.

Told of Jolley’s statements, Diamondstone said his client “chose to drop this case in order to spare everybody this emotional turmoil.”

The criminal charges against Dalsing, dismissed in 2011 due to lack of evidence and again in 2015 due to prosecutorial vindictiveness, fueled a recall petition and whistleblower complaints against Lindquist and his staff, as well as a state bar complaint against Lindquist and other prosecutors that is still under investigation.

The criminal charges against Dalsing, dismissed in 2011 due to lack of evidence and again in 2015 due to prosecutorial vindictiveness, fueled a recall petition and whistleblower complaints against Lindquist and his staff, as well as a state bar complaint against Lindquist and other prosecutors that is still under investigation.

The case also sparked a separate suit filed by retired sheriff’s deputy Mike Ames, one of several deputies involved in the original criminal investigation. Ames contends that prosecutors tried to destroy his credibility to gain advantage in the lawsuit. The case is pending.

In 2010, prosecutors charged Michael Dalsing with multiple counts of child rape. The victims were the Dalsings’ daughter, then 7, and two of her young friends. Michael Dalsing and an associate, William Maes, pleaded guilty and were convicted in 2011.

After charging Michael Dalsing, prosecutors charged Lynn Dalsing with sex crimes, based on a photo wrongly identified as depicting her. Questions of misidentification were raised internally by Ames and later proved accurate.

Prosecutors dismissed the criminal charges in 2011, after Dalsing spent seven months in jail. She subsequently sued in 2012 for false arrest, initially seeking $5 million.

Following a series of discovery battles that climbed to the Washington State Supreme Court and yielded information about the misidentified photo, prosecutors filed new criminal charges against Dalsing, including child rape. They accused her of knowing about her husband’s actions against the children and aiding in their commission.

In 2015, Superior Court Judge Ed Murphy dismissed those charges due to prosecutorial vindictiveness, noting that prosecutors filed them to gain advantage in the long-running false-arrest lawsuit.

Prosecutors initially appealed Murphy’s ruling, then withdrew the appeal, meaning Dalsing could not be charged again.

Those developments allowed Dalsing’s lawsuit to move forward. Diamondstone, her attorney, filed a separate suit in federal court against Lindquist and deputy prosecutor Jared Ausserer last year. Recently, on May 11, Diamondstone moved to dismiss the federal suit, again without a settlement.

Last fall, the county’s lawyers and Diamondstone appeared to be on the verge of a settlement that would have paid Dalsing $250,000, according to court records. Jolley, Lindquist and Diamondstone had tentatively agreed on the wording of a settlement agreement and the amount — but county risk manager Mark Maenhout vetoed the terms and the potential payout.

Last fall, the county’s lawyers and Diamondstone appeared to be on the verge of a settlement that would have paid Dalsing $250,000, according to court records. Jolley, Lindquist and Diamondstone had tentatively agreed on the wording of a settlement agreement and the amount — but county risk manager Mark Maenhout vetoed the terms and the potential payout, preferring to fight in court.

Following the aborted negotiations, both sides vowed to continue the battle, and familiar rhetoric resurfaced: Jolley and county lawyers said the evidence would show Dalsing was responsible for the abuse her daughter suffered, while Diamondstone said the county’s misconduct in the course of prosecution would be be a decisive factor.

Friday, Diamondstone underlined the 2015 finding of prosecutorial vindictiveness.

“Judge Murphy correctly found the new criminal case was vindictive and dismissed the case,” he said. “Judge Murphy’s ruling closed the door on new charges by Pierce County for this sad chapter.”

Diamondstone added that his client “chose to drop this case in order to spare everybody this emotional turmoil.”

Jolley insisted that Dalsing walked away because of the statement from her daughter. He added that the public expense of defending the suit was justified, and that the failed settlement negotiations had no bearing on the strength of the county’s position.

“Yeah, the county spent money defending it, so that’s the right result,” he said. “We never had a settlement. We were concerned about cost, not losing.”

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