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Citing “Deliberate Indifference,” Woman Sues Bunnell Over Ex-Cop’s Sex-Laced Defamation

| September 22, 2011

Online indecency.

Torie Marino, the woman about whom a young Bunnell cop last year posted a sexually obscene ad on Craigslist through his police-issued computer and a Sheriff’s Office IP address, is suing the man, the Bunnell Police Department and the City of Bunnell on six counts, including defamation. She is seeking more than $15,000 in damages. The exact sum is not known.

For Bunnell, the lawsuit is the latest in a barrage of court actions, internal and state attorney’s investigations and other severe embarrassments corroding the police department’s credibility, the city’s reputation, and its manager’s patience with it all: Armando Martinez sought the police chief’s job in a city in Melbourne in August. He did not get it and is staying put for now.

The Marino case centers on the actions of Nick Massaro in late November 2009. Massaro, who has since resigned and had reportedly worked as a bouncer in Jacksonville, was a corporal with the Bunnell Police Department. In 2007, he’d been Bunnell’s Officer of the Year, and in 2008, he was honored by Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida for exemplifying service and leadership. His commendations over four years, however, were shadowed by disciplinary actions for neglect of duty and failing to appear in court when required, as cops often are when testifying on cases. He also failed three complaints that were found to be baseless.

Around Nov. 29 or 30, 2009, using his department-issued laptop and an Internet line provided by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, he posted an obscene ad on Craigslist, the free, online classified site that includes categories for personal ads and casual sex encounters. He wrote the ad posing as Marino, who was a friend of Massaro’s then-wife and was the maid of honor at Massaro’s wedding. He is no longer married.

Just before 8 a.m. on Nov. 30, the woman was woken up by “numerous obscene and degrading phone calls and text messages from complete strangers requesting photos and soliciting sexual acts,” according to the complaint filed in Flagler County Circuit Court on Sept. 19. She asked one of the callers why she was getting the calls. He told her to check “her” Craigslist posting. She did so, discovering “a horrendous and sexually explicit advertisement depicting herself,” posted in the Casual Encounters section and listing her name and phone number, her picture, “and pictures from black men and men over the age of 40,” according to the complaint. The ad, in Craigslist style, specifies lusts and specialties and lists the phone number in a mixture of numbers and letters.

Craigslist eliminated the ad when Marino alerted the company, which also furnished the IP address and email address tied to the account that wrote the ad, both of which led back to Massaro who, according to the complaint, confessed to his wife to posting the ad and eventually—after a seven-week internal investigation by the Bunnell Police Department triggered by the woman’s complaint—confessed to investigators, who also found that Massaro had used his department-issued computer to look up pornography (Massaro said that only happened when spam email contained porn) and to do personal searches on individuals using a law enforcement database.

Marino’s six charges are leveled at Massaro and Bunnell together, though they focus especially on the police department, again raising issues of management, supervision and credibility. The counts include intentional infliction of severe emotional distress, invasion of privacy, defamation, negligent hiring or retention by the police department, negligent infliction of emotional distress by the police department, and a charge centering on “the failure to train” Massaro and other officers, which, the complaint states, amounts to “’deliberate indifference’ to the rights of persons with whom the police come into contact.” In other words, the police department was complicit in enabling an officer abusing his position to inflict emotional hard on a resident the department is intended to protect.

The complaint continues: “Defendants, City of Bunnell and Bunnell Police Department, knew of a need to adequately supervise Defendant, Nick Massaro, and other officers as Defendant Massaro had a lengthy history of disciplinary problems and the Police Department had several instances of officer misconduct that could have been simply avoided by proper supervision and the municipality made a deliberate choice not to take action. In fact, the only action that has been taken to prevent further heinous damages to citizens by the Police Department has been to shut it down.”

In fact, the police department has not been shut down, though it has weathered two attempts in the last two years, led by one of its city commissioners, to either close it and have the sheriff’s office provide law enforcement for Bunnell, or to scale it down in conjunction with the sheriff’s help.

Massaro claimed at the time that the Craigslist posting had been meant as a joke and was “not malicious in nature,” according to the internal investigation. He resigned on Jan. 26, 2010. “He’s been with us a long time and he’s done a good job, but he failed with his mistake,” Arthur Jones, the Bunnell police chief, said at the end of the internal investigation.

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8 Responses for “Citing “Deliberate Indifference,” Woman Sues Bunnell Over Ex-Cop’s Sex-Laced Defamation”

  1. PJ says:

    Good Cop but made a huge mistake. so your out it is as simple as that.

    As far as Bunnell PD, Chief Jones and Armando Martinez. They manage the day to day stuff that goes on in a city as any other chief and Manager should do.

    The Police officers they have right now could not be a finer group.

    Ok you nay sayers go ahead lay into me for sticking up for Jones and Martinez say what you want but arrest are up crime is down in Bunnell. Check the stats your self.

  2. Larry says:

    PJ, you made the statement, you provide the proof. Where are the stats?

  3. The Geode says:

    @ PJ You say “crime is down in Bunnell”. It’s NOT because of the “Police”, I assure you. They park in that vacant field and watch people speed, stand in the middle of the road, ride unauthorized vehicles while they shake in their boots as if this is “Pine Hills” in Orlando. Other than harassing the occasional “suspended license driver”, I really can’t gauge how well they’re doing their job because they have absolutely NO respect and people treat them as the jokes they are.

  4. The Piranha says:

    PJ, ever hear the saying “numbers don’t lie and liars use numbers”? The real “numbers” indicator would be if one could walk down a street at 2:00 am and feel secure, drive their car down the road at 7:00 pm and not be hawked by rock pushers, or have a young group of guys not “borrow” someones car as the owner sucks rock from a stem inside their crib. If you feel comfortable that those scenarios don’t exist, then I’d agree that Martinez and his puppet are allowing the cops to get the job done. There are some real good cops working for BPD. Hopefully, when some current commissioners are voted out and subsequently BPD is laid to rest, the FCSO will hire those good one’s. Until then let the dumb and dumber show continue and the lawsuits as well.

  5. Popo3984 says:

    Bpd isn’t going anywhere

  6. The Geode says:

    @Popo3984 …nor are they doing anything.

  7. PJ says:

    At the end of the day the bad guys are slowly moving out of the area. Not good for Palm coast. What you have to understand is first you have to clean up the old stuff as is and has been done. Not of course to the liking of some old school players.

    Those commissioners that you Piranha want not to be re-elected are the ones that care about the city. In fact each and everyone in the city. In fact again the commission in place today want to see the safe streets like your walk at 2AM. It is not safe anywhere at 2AM just because. You need to move to Mayberry even Barney Phife would not be out at 2AM. All joking aside your commission works for you. Got a problem got to a meeting and wait for the public comment time in which you have 4 minutes to complain or comment.

    If you care so much about yoru beloved city of Bunnell then you would get up there be civil and speak your mind.

    Regarding the reductuion in crime I read about it recently. I will check with Bunnell and see if I can respond to Larry about the stats.
    The way I read it is major crime is calculated by felonies. In Bunnell those felonies are down, yes they fluctuate but overall they were down in Bunnell.

    In fact the Bunnell cops have more arest then most police have in nearby jurisdictions and that is a fact I believe Flagle Live may have information on. What say you Pierre would you know about this fact?

    There is always room for improvement,……….

  8. The Piranha says:

    PJ, public comment time at city meetings…been there and done that many many times. At this point. I’d rather just wait for the next bomb to go off in the fox hole and watch the snakes scatter once again. The city commissioner’s have your back for sure. Just like when Roger’s tried to do the right thing for the city and save the citizens a large sum of cash. He called an emergency meeting after hearing the city manager had month long plans in the making of leaving for a position in Melbourne. Had he been fired or as he himself likes to say “laid off, it would have saved from having to pay a severance package. When this emergency meeting took place, the mayor shot it down immediately due to improper wording??? Your kidding me??? Sounds like her heart is somewhere else other than the citizens of Bunnell. Like I said, I think there are a few Bunnell cops that would fit right in to the FCSO and I look forward to that day…probably even more (if that’s possible) than Mr. Tucker.

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