A Clovis teen who was accused of sexual battery after performing a wrestling move on a teammate has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against several agencies and officials involved in the case.
Preston Hill, who turned 18 last month, alleges malicious prosecution and defamation in the suit, which stems from a well-publicized event that happened in July 2010 and then made almost continuous headlines from last December through March of this year.
Hill -- at the time headed into his senior year at Buchanan High School -- contended he was doing a legitimate wrestling move called a "butt-drag" on a freshman teammate when he grabbed the teammate's butt cheek.
That teammate, however, told Clovis police and school officials that Hill rammed two fingers into his anus in an attempt to humiliate and bully him.
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A sexual battery charge was dismissed in January, but the Clovis Unified School District still expelled Hill.
Named in the suit are the Clovis Police Department, officer Mark Bradford, the Fresno County District Attorney's Office, District Attorney Elizabeth Egan and Elana Smith, the deputy district attorney who had filed the charge against Hill.
The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Fresno, claims there was a conscious effort -- especially by Bradford and Smith -- to press the case against Hill, even though there was scant evidence to support the charges.
Smith, in particular, is singled out for having "a personal animus toward Hill and his family." As such, the suit says, "she and Defendant Egan chose to single out Hill from all other juveniles and avenge her personal animus by filing the charge against Hill."
The lawsuit further claims that all the defendants were aware that Buchanan High -- which Hill and the victim both attended -- had started expulsion proceedings against Hill. The charges were filed against Hill, the suit says, "to buttress those expulsion proceedings," which would ensure that he never again wrestled for the school.
As for the defamation charge, the lawsuit contends Hill suffered "indignity, humiliation, distress, defamation on a national scale" because of the widespread publicity the case garnered.
Fresno County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Sonia De La Rosa said Egan had not seen the suit. Clovis officials said the same thing. Bradford and Smith could not be reached for comment.
Lawrence Fisher, a Pittsburgh, Pa.,-based attorney who is representing Hill, declined to further comment on the lawsuit, other than to say "everything there is to be said at this point is said rather adroitly by the complaint."
Clovis Unified was not named in the lawsuit, but Fisher hinted that could come at a later time.
Currently, Fresno attorneys Charles Magill and his wife, Laura Guzman Magill, have filed a writ in Fresno County Superior Court to erase the expulsion. That case is ongoing.