A woman who was sexually assaulted by the son of a wealthy former Orange County assistant sheriff and two friends as they videotaped the incident cannot sue over the defense team's tactics, a judge ruled Friday.
The lawsuit, filed under the pseudonym Jane Doe, seeks unspecified damages for emotional distress, invasion of privacy, sexual assault and battery.
The suit names Gregory Haidl, son of businessman and former Assistant Sheriff Donald Haidl, and his friends Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann. They assaulted the victim in July 2002 in the elder Haidl's Corona del Mar home, using a variety of objects, including a pool cue. The three were convicted in 2005 on sexual assault charges and sentenced to six years in prison.
In an unusual move, the lawsuit also included Haidl's attorney, Joseph G. Cavallo, and two defense investigators, John Warren and Shawn Smigel, saying that their aggressive pretrial investigation of her and her family crossed a line. Warren and Smigel were removed from the lawsuit under Friday's ruling, but Cavallo remains, because he hasn't filed necessary legal documents.
According to the victim, Cavallo and the investigators staked out her Rancho Cucamonga house, stalked her and went through her trash. She said that investigators improperly obtained her medical records and cornered her in a parking lot while snapping pictures of her. The victim said that Gregory Haidl's parents, Donald and Gail Haidl, and stepmother Kathleen Haidl also took part in the investigation.
After Haidl and his co-defendants were arrested, Haidl's mother posted fliers in Jane Doe's neighborhood identifying her as the accuser.
But Superior Court Judge Stephen J. Sundvold ruled that the investigators, as well as the Haidls, had a right to investigate as part of the litigation team and could not be sued for invading Jane Doe's privacy.
Haidl's parents remain defendants in the part of the case that says they should have known of the drug- and alcohol-fueled parties at the Corona del Mar home.
"It's not a loss; we still have plenty to go on," said Sheldon Lodmer, the victim's attorney. "It's just one battle in the war."