AOL News (Aug. 5) -- A central Florida woman who was arrested after her shirt got wet at a kiddie splash park in Tavares is suing the city for violating her rights, the woman's attorney told AOL News.
"We are trying to vindicate her [and] establish [that] what was done to her was unconstitutional and wrong," said civil rights attorney Howard S. Marks.
The incident that provoked the lawsuit occurred in April when Janet Lovett and her husband took their 7-year-old son, who is autistic, to the Children's Splash Park in Tavares. While she was in the park, Lovett was splashed by water, which soaked the front of her white T-shirt and made her padded bra visible.
Janet Lovett's lawyer said the Florida woman is suing the city of Tavares for violating her rights because she was arrested after her shirt got wet at a kiddie splash park there.
"She was ultimately approached by an individual [who] professed to be a city employee and [told] she was not appropriately dressed for the park," Marks said. "[He told her] she would have to change into a bathing suit or some other clothing."
Marks said his client left her husband with their child, put a towel over her shoulders and walked out of the city-owned park. She was planning on going home to get a bathing suit when she was approached in the parking lot by a police officer.
"[The] police officer confronted her and started essentially quizzing her and demanding information from her, stating that she needed to put Mrs. Lovett's name in a database," Marks said.
Lovett, a Peruvian native who was granted American citizenship in January, speaks English, albeit "not perfectly," Marks said. She said she explained the situation to the officer and requested to speak with her husband. The officer allegedly denied that request and asked Lovett to produce her identification. She had none with her and told the officer it was in her car.
"I started shaking. I [felt] nervous. My son was inside [the] park with [my] husband. I was alone," Lovett said in an interview with ABC-affiliate WFTV. "[I was] very scared. I [had] never been arrested before."
A police report obtained by WFTV indicates Lovett did not give her name fast enough. As a result, she was taken into custody on suspicion of obstructing justice and resisting arrest.
"[The officer] took my client's arms and twisted them behind her back after handcuffing her," Marks said. "That caused some bruises to her arms and her hands. [She was] then escorted into the back of a patrol car and taken to jail."
Lovett sat in jail for about five hours before her husband could arrange to pay her $1,500 bond. The state attorney later dropped the charges without explanation.
"Legally, under the constitution of the state of Florida and the U.S., it is our position that Mrs. Lovett did not have to provide any identification information, but she never refused to do so," Marks said. "Obviously, [police] have a right to investigate crimes if there is a reason to believe somebody committed a crime, but there was no crime here."
Marks said he is also concerned about the city's alleged refusal to disclose information on the database into which the officer allegedly said she wanted to put his client's name.
"We have never been able to get any answers from the city," Marks said. "I don't know what database they could be putting her in. It is either a wet T-shirt database -- if the city is maintaining one of those, that's an entirely different story -- or an illegal alien database."
The city of Tavares acknowledges receiving a notice of intent from Lovett's attorney but declined to comment on the case.
"I can't respond to any of those questions," public communications spokeswoman Joyce Ross told AOL News. "[It's] typical for any type of lawsuit or notice of suit that we can't comment."
Marks said the lawsuit he is filing is for violation of civil rights, false arrest and malicious prosecution. He also said that it will ultimately be up to a jury to decide how much money to award his client.
"Mrs. Lovett committed no crime," Marks said. "Absolutely no cleavage [was showing]. Even if seeing someone's bra is indecent exposure or illegal in the U.S., then we are going to have to have a lot of appropriations for jails because most of the public is going to be in them."
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