Chesterton Tribune

Former Sunrise Farm owner sues Chesterton police

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A local businessman who was charged with public indecency and battery in connection with an alleged incident at his health food store almost six years ago—charges which were subsequently dismissed by the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office—is suing the Town of Chesterton, alleging among other things fraud and perjury on the part of the Chesterton Police Department.

Mark E. Snyder of Jackson Township, who operated Sunrise Farms at 572 Indian Boundary Road, is seeking a total of $900,000 in damages from the Town of Chesterton, in a suit filed on Dec. 23 in Porter Circuit Court.

Earlier this year, on Aug. 6, Snyder also filed a suit against his original accuser, a customer at Sunrise Farms, who reported to the police that Snyder had exposed himself in front of her while she was shopping at his store on May 15, 2005, and that he had rubbed her shoulders against her wishes. That accusation led to formal charges of public indecency and battery being filed against Snyder and the issuance and execution of an arrest warrant. But on March 15, 2010, those charges were dismissed.

Snyder makes six specific allegations in his suit against the Town of Chesterton:

•That the CPD “knowingly and intentionally committed fraud” and that his accuser’s “handwritten statement to police is a fraudulently manufactured document.”

•That the CPD “intentionally and maliciously instituted and pursued a criminal legal action that was brought without probable cause and was dismissed in favor” of Snyder.

•That the CPD “knowingly committed perjury when signing the probable cause affidavits.”

•That the CPD “knowingly and intentionally arrested (Snyder) with an expired warrant.”

•That the CPD “acted intentionally to deprive (Snyder) of the right to due process of law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

•And that the CPD “acted intentionally, extremely, and outrageously to cause severe emotional distress” both to Snyder and his wife.

Snyder is seeking $225,000 in actual damages, $675,000 in punitive damage, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann declined today to comment on the suit.

In his Aug. 6 suit, Snyder alleged that his accuser “filed a false report” knowing “that it would result in (his) arrest,” knowing the claims “to be false at the time she made the report,” and knowing that her report “would affect (Snyder’s) standing in the Chesterton business community.”

“As a direct and proximate result of (his accuser’s) statements,” Snyder stated in the Aug. 6 suit, his “reputation and character have been irreparably damaged,” while the “publication of the false and misleading statements . . . have also caused (him) severe emotional and psychological distress and was deliberately calculated to produce such effects.”

In the Aug. 6 suit Snyder stated that he was seeking $25,000 in actual damages and $75,000 in punitive damages.

According to the CPD’s own report, in an interview with a detective Snyder vehemently denied the charges, said that he did hug his accuser because she was upset and that he often hugs his customers, and noted that anyone could fabricate such allegations because he has no way of defending himself. Snyder also advised the detective that his accuser had informed him that she was depressed and that possibly “her thinking is irrational.”


Posted 12/30/2010