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Sheriff deputy’s suit against Jefferson County dismissed


WATERTOWN — The last cause of action in a lawsuit brought by a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy over topless photos taken of her for use in an online pedophile investigation has been dismissed.

In an oral decision issued Thursday from the bench, state Supreme Court Judge James P. McClusky granted the county’s motion for summary judgment on a breach of contract claim, ending the suit brought in April 2012 by Krystal G. Rice.

The suit alleged that Ms. Rice was brought in 2006 by now-retired Detective Steven C. Cote to a secluded location, where 30 to 40 pictures of her in various stages of undress were taken. She claimed that the action was approved by Lt. Michael S. Peterson, also now retired, and that a contract was drawn up that set conditions of how the photos would be used and stored. She maintained the contract said that only one copy of the photos would be kept on a floppy disk and that the disk would be secured by Mr. Cote, with no one else having access. Ms. Rice claimed that she was to approve any picture used in an investigation and that she could have the sole copy of the photos back “at any time she asked.”

When she asked for the photos back in 2009, she allegedly was told that Mr. Cote had destroyed the disk and removed a copy from his laptop and that no other copies existed. Ms. Rice sued the county for $50 million, claiming, among other things, that she had no way of knowing how the photos were used or who viewed them. In addition to the photos being unaccounted for, the contract could not be located.

Ms. Rice claimed in her action that the contract called for her to receive $1 million for each photo that could not be returned to her upon her request. Judge McClusky ruled that even if a contract existed, Ms. Rice could not prove that it was breached and could not prove damages.

Judge McClusky had dismissed causes of action for allegedly destroying evidence, fraud and negligent infliction of emotional distress in November 2012. The evidence claim was dismissed after the judge ruled state law does not recognize such a claim, while the other claims were dismissed because they were not filed within the state’s one-year, 90-day statutory limit.

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