Lawsuits Filed Over Dismissed Molest Charges

Times Staff Writer

Four persons arrested in April, 1984, on child-molestation charges that were later dismissed have filed lawsuits charging the City of Pico Rivera and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department with false-imprisonment, civil-rights violations, defamation and the negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Attorney Peter Gwosdof, representing the four, said the suits were filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking an unspecified amount of damages. The suits, which followed $40-million damage claims filed late last year, are being brought by Tim and Helen O'Keefe, both 26, Myrna Malave, 42, and Malave's estranged husband, Jose Valentin, 49.

Accused by Children

The four, longtime residents of Planter Street had been named by 13 children--most between ages 7 and 12--in a case that inflamed the close-knit neighborhood early last year. Several of the children later admitted they had made up the molestation charges, and the case was dismissed at a preliminary hearing in July by Whittier Municipal Court Judge Patricia Hofstetter.

Two 8-year-old boys testified at the hearing, one of whom admitted under cross-examination that he had lied about the case. Hofstetter accused the other boy of lying on the witness stand because of inconsistencies in his testimony.

Sgt. Steve Levy, a member of the Los Angeles County Child-Abuse Detail in Whittier that has been handling the investigation, refused to comment on the lawsuit Tuesday, saying only that sheriff's deputies are still investigating the case. Lt. James Moss of the county's Pico Rivera station, which handled the arrests, also refused to comment, citing a department policy not to discuss pending litigation.

Pico Rivera City Atty. Sam Siegel could not be reached for comment.

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