TUCSON – A man said he was treated like a fugitive after his ex-wife made a false report to police, and the Pima County Attorney’s Office had his summons mailed to the wrong address.
Thomas Bray was indicted on charges of Sexual Conduct with a Minor and Molestation of a Child. The case was dismissed before it went to trial.
Bray said the summons was mailed to an address where he never lived.
“I don’t know how they serve it to an address instead of a physical person,” Bray said, “but they did.”
Because he missed his arraignment in court, a judge issued an arrest warrant and ordered a $100,000 bond.
J. Alan Goodwin is the Special Victims Bureau Chief with the Pima County Attorney’s Office. He wrote in an email, “When a case is indicted, there are really only two options, an arrest warrant or a summons. When we ask the court to summons a defendant rather than issue an arrest warrant, the summons is sent to the defendant’s last known address. When an arraignment date arrives, and a summonsed defendant is not present, the court sometimes continues the hearing, and other times it issues a warrant.”
Bray had moved to Texas and was extradited back to the Pima County jail.
“I lost my car, my apartment, accrued massive amounts of debt, electric bill,” Bray said, “everything you can think of, I lost.”
After spending more than 2 months behind bars, Bray was able to fight the high bond and be released.
“I couldn’t get the pay that I was used to because I was still under felony indictment,” Bray said.
Bray said phone records, text messages and social media posts helped show his ex-wife made up the story. He said a doctor also reviewed the video interview with the alleged victim and was going to testify the young girl was coached.
Richard Lougee is a criminal defense attorney who specializes in sexual abuse cases. He did not represent Bray. Bray’s case was dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be filed again.
“Because the judge is of the opinion that there is no basis for it,” Lougee said, “that’s a very rare situation.”
Lougee said false reports in domestic disputes are not uncommon.
“You can’t prove it didn’t happen,” Lougee said, “so you’re never certain that it didn’t happen. And that’s one of the things that makes these allegations so dangerous if they’re false.”
Lougee said he has never seen anybody prosecuted for the misdemeanor of false reporting since he started practicing law in Arizona in 1988.
“It’s the same penalty as underage drinking,” Lougee said, “so there’s no downside really to making a false allegation. Nothing’s going to happen to you if you do.”
Goodwin wrote in an email, “When law enforcement brings us an investigation, we carefully review it to determine whether or not there exists sufficient evidence that a crime happened. Ethically, we can only charge a case if we believe that we have a reasonable likelihood of proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt. This ethical obligation also extends beyond the initial charging decision. If, after a case has been charged, additional information leads us to conclude that we no longer have a reasonable likelihood of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt, then we cannot continue with the prosecution.”