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New Trial Ordered in Suit Over Suicide That Followed ‘Outing’ Threat by Police

A federal judge has ordered a new trial in a civil rights suit brought by relatives of Marcus Wayman, who committed suicide after a police officer allegedly threatened to tell his family that he was gay. The judge indicated that the jury’s decision went against the “credible weight of the evidence.” According to the suit, on April 17th, 1997, Officer Scott Willinsky of the Minersville, Pennsylvania Police Department discovered Wayman, then 18, and Matthew Adamick, then 17, in a parked car. Both men were arrested for underage drinking, and when confronted by police officers, admitted to have been having sex. The two men were brought to the police station where they were lectured about the Bible’s writings on the evils of homosexuality. Officer Willinsky allegedly told Wayman that if he didn’t tell his grandfather that he was gay, Officer Willinsky would do so himself. Wayman then told Adamick that he was going to kill himself. Wayman was released from custody that night, and committed suicide in his home. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has already reviewed this case once and stated that the police “should have known” that forcing Wayman to disclose his sexual orientation would violate his constitutional rights since it was “a matter of private concern.” In motions after the jury verdict, attorneys for the plaintiff urged the court to take the rare step of setting the verdict aside because it was “against the weight of the evidence.” The judge agreed, and has granted a new trial. A date has not yet been set. LEARN MORE Visit the Marcus Wayman Memorial Website

Sources:

The Legal Intelligencer; 06/27/02

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