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Lawsuit against Scottsbluff, ex-chief dismissed

- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A judge has dismissed a federal lawsuit filed by a woman against the city of Scottsbluff and its former police chief, with whom she had an affair.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf said in a ruling issued Tuesday that Tamara Villanueva had failed to prove the elements of her various claims.

One of her attorneys, Joy Shiffermiller, said Thursday that she and her client "are very disappointed in the court's order and we are considering our options." Shiffermiller said an appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is likely, because "we believe there was sufficient evidence to make the matter a jury question at a minimum."

She also said the judge dismissed one of Villanueva's state claims - negligent infliction of emotional distress - but left it available for Villanueva to possibly pursue in state court.

City Attorney Howard Olsen told Scottsbluff radio station KNEB that the ruling confirms the quality of the police department.

Villanueva had sued the city and then-Police Chief Alex Moreno in October 2011, alleging that her rights to equal protection and due process were violated because of her affair with Moreno. He acknowledged the affair and eventually resigned on Oct. 1, 2012.

The lawsuit says Villanueva was a coordinator with a Neighborhood Watch program in southeast Scottsbluff from March 2009 to February 2011. She says the monthlong sexual relationship with Moreno ended in November 2010.

Villanueva had told Moreno that she'd been a victim of domestic assault and later reported the same to another department officer, the lawsuit says, but neither Moreno nor the other officer made written reports.

Villanueva's lawsuit says that after the affair ended and since she filed the lawsuit, she's been harassed by Moreno and other, unnamed people at his behest. She says police ignored her complaints about harassment, which she says led to a court denying her attempt to get a protection order against Moreno.

Moreno has denied stalking and harassing Villanueva and denied directing anyone else to harass her.

The judge had already dismissed portions of the lawsuit that sought damages for acts Moreno undertook in his official capacity.

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