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Teen Sues Douglas County Over Wrongful Imprisonment

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Teen Sues Douglas County Over Wrongful Imprisonment

By Jake Wasikowski. CREATED Jul 25, 2014

Omaha, NE -- In a lawsuit filed in U.S. Federal Court, an Omaha teen says he was punished twice.  18-year-old Dakota Parsons spent almost 7 months in jail without bond after pleading "No Contest" to bringing an explosive device to school.

The 25 page complaint filed on behalf of Dakota Parsons and his mother is against the Douglas County Attorney’s Office, the Douglas County Jail’s Director, the Omaha Police Department, City of Omaha, and Westside Community Schools.  A number of county and school official are also named as defendants.

He pleaded "No Contest" to having an explosive device on Westside school grounds in October 2012.  In June 2013 he started Young Adult Court, a strict program that’s 1-2 years long to have his felony dropped to a misdemeanor.

He was following the program and ready to start back at Westside High School for his senior year, but everything changed.  A few days before school started he was arrested and thrown back in jail without bond, where he stayed for nearly 7 months.

"It was quite tough because I didn't know how long I was going to be in there.  Maybe I was going to be in there a day or two, I could've been in there for a couple of years I have no idea,” Parsons explained. "I missed out on graduation and prom, and all the things that seniors would do.  I feel that my time in there (jail) has not counted for anything."

A total of 7 allegations have been filed in the Federal lawsuit.  They include Unlawful Imprisonment, Abuse of Process, Illegal Search and Seizure, and Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights.  Parsons’ attorney said Westside didn’t want him back at the school.

"To this day no one has told us why he was rearrested the 2nd time,” said Diane Vogt, Parsons’ Attorney. “Young Adult Court is a great thing when it works like it's supposed to but if it gives the prosecutor and the courts that much discretion to hold somebody in jail for 7 months without even telling them, they need to look at that."

Previously prosecutors indicated Parsons was a danger, had explosive making materials, and was making keys to get into Westside.

County Attorney Don Kleine says Young Adult Court is a tough program to complete.

"Everything that's done in this program is judicially supervised, it's not just us making the decision, there's still a judge.  There's a court system and the judge oversees the process," Kleine described.  "Certainly there were opportunities to meet with the judge to have bond set or for him to be released during that process."

Parsons was released from jail in March 2014 on his own recognizance after his defense demanded a hearing that prosecutors produce evidence.

He's seeking monetary and punitive damages in the federal lawsuit.

Parsons is in a program at Metro Community College to get his Westside HS diploma.

Westside Community Schools can't respond to the lawsuit yet, because they haven't been served.