Father cannot sue government investigators who respond to abuse reports
Patrick McCarthy was involved in an ugly divorce and custody battle when his ten- and eleven-year old daughters made complaints of inappropriate sexual contact to their daycare provider. The family was forced to undergo a thorough investigation by human services and police agencies and McCarthy was charged with 2d degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. Just prior to the commencement of a criminal trial against McCarthy, the girls recanted their claims, and both the criminal case against McCarthy and the child protective proceeding were dismissed. McCarthy then sued the agencies and the involved individuals, arguing that investigators should have known that the complaints arose out of the custody battle and dismissed them without an investigation. The Court of Appeals rejected McCarthy's reasoning and concluded that the state actors were immune from liability because the girls' claims created "probable cause" for an investigation that was not motivated by malice.