Seeking millions

This page dedicated to: false allegations of rape; malicious prosecution.


A man whose rape charges were dismissed in Fulton County this week is seeking $25 million in damages, contending that he was the victim of "malicious prosecution."

Mark E. Umpenhour and his wife Cathy Zraik have filed a notice of claim for damages with the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. They contend they were damaged as a result of acts allegedly committed by Paul Kennedy, Assistant Fulton County Prosecutor, William Swigart county prosecutor, and Fulton County.

According to the filing, the prosecutors "unlawfully and unethically withheld evidence of innocence despite orders by the court to reveal this evidence." Mr. Umpenhour, 36, was indicted last summer on two counts of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition stemming from alleged incidents involving a girl under the age of 13 in 1995.

A jury trial in Mr. Umpenhour's case began this week, but Fulton County Common Please Judge James Barber suppressed the state's evidence. The dismissal order was filed yesterday. Alan Eisenberg of Milwaukee, lead trial counsel for Mr. Umpenhour said that Umpenhour's case was the "worst case I've ever seen of prosecutorial misconduct." Mr. Eisenberg alleges that prosecutors repeatedly "rebuffed and denied" requests for the release of necessary vital information helpful to the defense. Judge Barber declined to comment on the case.

Fulton County commissioners have not yet seen the complaint, said Vond Hail county administrator. The notice seeks $15 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages from Fulton County, Mr. Swigart, Mr. Kennedy. Lucas County and the Lucas County Children Service Board. Sandy Isenberg, president of the Lucas County commissioners said that she was not aware of Umpenhour's notice.

Mr. Swigart said the case was dismissed for several reasons, including the state's failure to provide the defense with Lucas County Children Services Board record, and to provide Mr. Umpenhour's attorneys with information concerning a Lucas County Ombudsman's investigation. The Prosecution, Mr. Swigart stated, argued that the CSB records are confidential and privileged by state law and that it did not have copies of them or access to them. His office is planning to appeal the judge's dismissal. In addition Mr. Swigart said that the county intends to "vigorously defend itself" against the allegations in Umpenhour's notice of damages.

According to the complaint, CSB made the allegations against Mr. Umpenhour and participated in the presentation of the case to the grand jury. The CSB's file included numerous documents showing evidence of Mr. Umpenhour's innocence said Mr. Eisenberg. The file should have been shown to Fulton County authorities and the grand jury, he said. The file which included more than 1,000 pages, was not turned over to him until Monday morning, an hour before the trial was to begin. Mr. Eisenberg, assisted during the proceedings by Toledo Attorney Mark Jacobs, immediately requested a temporary postponement to give him time to investigate the documents, but the judge denied the request. When the trial began, the prosecution called two witnesses, including the alleged victim, Mr. Umpenhour contends in the complaint that the "alleged victim committed perjury." During the trial, defense attorneys argued several motions for contempt and motions to dismiss. Mr. Umpenhour's attorneys demanded that Mr. Kennedy and the prosecutors office be reported for unethical conduct. After hearing arguments on the motions, Judge Barber ordered all of the state's evidence suppressed. Mr. Kennedy has appealed the Judge's ruling. According to Mr. Eisenberg, the charges cannot be refilled against Mr. Umpenhour.

Mr. Eisenberg would not say where Mr. Umpenhour lives now.

Reprinted with permission.

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