CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee woman has sued the U.S. Army for $30 million, claiming authorities did not alert her to an investigation into allegations that a Fort Campbell soldier raped her daughter and videotaped the act.
The soldier, Joshua Cline, has been convicted on rape charges in Tennessee and federal child pornography charges involving the girl, who was 6 when the abuse was discovered in 2008.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Nashville earlier this month. It claims the Army failed to warn the girl's mother after officials began investigating the charges, and instead told her that she didn't have anything to worry about regarding her daughter. The Army also waited at least 10 months to notify the Tennessee Department of Children's Services that the girl could be in danger, according to court and state records.
"It was devastating, absolutely devastating," the girl's mother told The Tennessean. The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual assault and is not naming the mother to protect her daughter's identity.
Army officials said the military does not comment on lawsuits.
The woman's lawyer, Amy Bates of Clarksville, Tenn., said federal officials denied any liability during a federal claim process that Bates initiated. That claim was denied, clearing the way for the federal lawsuit, Bates said.
Cline, who had a family relationship with the mother, was in Clarksville in March 2008 on a two-week break from deployment in Iraq when he molested the 6-year-old girl and videotaped the act, according to court records. The Army later learned that Cline was trying to sell the video on the Internet. Army officials seized his computer and found child pornography in the form of pictures and videos.
The mother got a call from Army investigators asking about some questionable pictures on Cline's computer, but she said they assured her there wasn't anything to worry about.
On Dec. 6 of that year, the mother gave birth to a son. On that day, according to the lawsuit, Cline again molested her daughter, who was 7 years old, and videotaped it. Prosecutors said Cline tried to peddle that video on the Internet for $25,000.
In January 2009, the mother was arrested and charged in the case, and her daughter and her newborn son were both taken away from her.
She told the newspaper that was when she first learned about the investigation.
Robert Nash, an assistant district attorney in Montgomery County, said the mother was charged with a misdemeanor for failing to protect a child from abuse, but the charge was dropped early on, he said. Natalie Hall, public information officer for Clarksville Police, said the charge against the mother has been expunged from the court record. Nash said the mother fully cooperated with the investigation.
The mother has also regained full custody of both children.
Cline was arrested by federal authorities on child pornography charges. Clarksville police also opened their own investigation into the rapes.
Cline pleaded guilty in both cases and was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison and 50 years in state prison, to be served concurrently.
The girl's mother said the case has left her daughter damaged, and that the girl continues to go to counseling.
"I blame them for letting him victimize her again," she said. "They knew what he had done, and they hid it."
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com