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ONTARIO: Man wrongfully arrested on child porn charges settles lawsuit with Guelph Police

Financial terms of the settlement with Derrick Miller and his family are confidential
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20190614 Guelph Police Service KA
Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday file photo

GUELPH - A Guelph man wrongfully arrested on child pornography charges in 2016 has settled his lawsuit against the Guelph Police Service, its former chief and two officers.

On Monday Guelph Police issued a release apologizing to Derrick Miller, an intellectually challenged man arrested and charged with voyeurism, possession of child pornography and mischief following an incident at the City Hall splash pad in July of 2016.

Miller’s lawyer, Kevin Kemp, confirmed via email to GuelphToday that the apology was part of a settlement reached last Tuesday.

“The amount of damages paid is confidential,” Kemp said.

Guelph Police issued the following statement when asked for comment.

“This matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the parties. The Guelph Police Service has no further comment.”

Miller had filed a $5 million lawsuit against Guelph Police, former chief Jeff DeRuyter and two unnamed officers. The lawsuit was filed in a Barrie court.

In its daily media release Monday,  Guelph Police issued the following apology:

“On July 27, 2016, the Guelph Police Service arrested Mr. Derrick Miller at Guelph City Hall for possession of child pornography and voyeurism. On July 28, 2016, the Guelph Police Service issued a media release in which it named Mr. Miller as being charged with these offences. Mr. Miller was not charged with these offences when the media release was issued or at any other time. The Guelph Police Service acknowledges that Mr. Miller was not in possession of child pornography or engaged in voyeurism. The Guelph Police Service sincerely apologizes to Mr. Miller for the embarrassment and damage that resulted from these events.”

Miller suffered injuries during the arrest and was taken by ambulance to Guelph General Hospital.

A subsequent investigation into those injuries by the province’s Special Investigations Unit cleared police of any wrongdoing.

Miller is a special needs person born with the genetic disorder Trisomy 8, which is characterized by some physical abnormalities and intellectual disabilities of various degrees.

"Derrick had not engaged in any act of voyeurism and he certainly did not possess child pornography. The charges were completely fabricated," read the statement of claim filed as part of the lawsuit.

Miller and his parents were the plaintiffs in the case.

A police report the following day distributed to various media outlets said Miller was arrested and charged with voyeurism, possession of child pornography and mischief.

The charges never made it to court.

The suit claimed that Miller was ridiculed and threatened with physical harm as a result of the original police media release about his arrest.

As a result of his arrest and the subsequent media coverage, Miller was "banned for life" by the Special Olympics organization and issued a no trespass order by the City of Guelph, the suit stated.

Since the incident it stated that Miller had suffered emotional and psychological upset as well as depression and anxiety.

"He no longer trusts the police and no longer feels safe in the community. He is afraid to be alone outside of his residence," it read.

The suit said Miller was on his way home from work at Torchlight Industries and after getting off his bus downtown decided to sit on a public bench adjacent to the splash pad.

Following a complaint from city staff, police arrived.

"Shortly thereafter Derrick was approached by the defendants Byard, John Doe and Jane Doe who demanded, in an aggressive and hostile tone, that Derrick stand up. Derrick was intimidated by the manner and approach of these defendants and became apprehensive that he was going to be harmed," the claim reads.

After police moved him away from the splash pad the lawsuit claims police "used non-consensual physical contact that escalated to excessive force and brutality."

The lawsuit was asking for $3 million for assault, battery, abuse of process, defamation, malicious prosecution, false arrest, false imprisonment, injurious falsehood and negligent investigation.

It also sought $2 million in punitive damages.