Coercion charges rejected

Allegations that Volusia County State Attorney’s Office officials coerced a teenager to lie about sexual abuse and then hid him from Orlando police officers who had a warrant for his arrest were deemed unfounded in two investigations. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and The Florida Bar investigated the claims of Eric D. Golden, who testified in November that he made up a story about being abused by Dennis B. Devlin, owner of The Desert Inn on Daytona Beach.

The findings of those investigations, however, conflict with a ruling earlier this month by Circuit Judge Shawn Briese, who determined that Golden’s testimony was credible and overturned Devlin’s 1995 conviction of lewd and lascivious assault on a child. In his ruling, Briese called the actions of the State Attorney’s Office employees “troubling.”

About a year ago, Devlin’s attorney filed complaints with The Florida Bar and FDLE based on the alleged actions of Assistant State Attorney Craig Dyer and state attorney investigator Mary Pascale.

Steve Mason, one of Devlin’s attorneys, said he wasn’t surprised neither investigation turned up any findings.

“I didn’t realistically expect any of that to go anywhere,” Mason said. “It’s one police organization investigating another.”

Complaint effort fails

Winter Park attorney Edward Culhan filed a complaint against Dyer with The Florida Bar’s grievance committee, which opened an investigation but later found there was no reason to continue. According to a July letter to Culhan, the Bar found “there was no clear and convincing evidence to support that Mr. Dyer counseled or assisted Mr. Golden to testify falsely through agent [Mary] Pascale.”

Dyer, who now works for the State Attorney’s Office in Broward County, would not comment about the Bar investigation.

In August, the FDLE concluded a separate investigation into Pascale’s role in the Devlin prosecution, also finding “insufficient evidence” for disciplinary action.

The investigation ended after Golden refused to take a polygraph examination to determine whether he was truthful when he recanted his 1995 testimony that helped convict Devlin.

“Golden’s credibility is of question,” the FDLE report states. “As a result, this investigation will therefore be closed.”

Columbus Family Law Blog

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