Lores sue Rowan County officials

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
A Rowan County couple acquitted of child abuse charges in a high profile case last year are suing several county departments and employees.
David and Angela Lore were initially charged with multiple counts of child abuse and animal cruelty, among other things, after authorities said they found the couple’s children living in squalid conditions at their home on Rockwell Road in southeastern Rowan County.
The Lores — who own a Salisbury pet store — were found not guilty of the child abuse and animal cruelty charges, but they were each convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia.
In an eight-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court, the Lores claim the heads of the Rowan County Department of Social Services, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and Rowan County Animal Control, as well as employees of those departments, violated their civil rights during their arrest.
During an investigation last March, detectives said the Lores had unfit living conditions in their home and children who had never been to school.
But the Lores said it’s not that simple.
In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Greensboro, the couple claims detectives and social workers entered their Rockwell Road home without consent and without warrants and interviewed their children without consent.
They also claim in the lawsuit that a Rowan County magistrate issued a bond “12 times the amount supported by court guidelines,” and that jail officers withheld medication, medically necessary access to a machine that helps David Lore breathe properly when he sleeps and “personal grooming materials required to be provided to prisoners.”
The Lores were at their business, Pet Place on South Main Street, Monday. They said they would be representing themselves in the lawsuit but declined to comment further.
An attorney has not been designated for any of the defendants, according to court records.
The defendants include: Sandra Wilkes, director of Rowan County Department of Social Services; Kris Sapper, investigator for Social Services; Rowan Sheriff Kevin Auten; Detective John Brindle of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office; Clai Martin, director of Rowan County Animal Control; 15 unnamed officers at the Rowan County Detention Center; one unnamed officer with Rowan County Animal Control; and Magistrate Gloria Jones of the Rowan County Magistrate’s Office.
The Lores allege in their lawsuit that Sapper entered their home on Feb. 17, 2011, without permission or a warrant and “began collecting evidence for a criminal court case.”
They also contend that Sapper and Brindle returned March 21, 2011, without a warrant and again collected evidence.
Two days later, the Lores’ argue in their lawsuit, Brindle served a search warrant he obtained through “the willful omission … that no children had been present in the home since December of 2010 and that he had previously entered the home.”
The Lores claim the warrant was “so broad as to be used as a blanket search of the home for any and all evidence of criminal activity.”
Wilkes, Auten and Rowan County attorney Jay Dees could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
After the search, deputies took the Lores’ four children from the home and charged the couple with four counts of child abuse, four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and three counts of cruelty to animals.
Deputies also said they found prescription pills, including Klonopin, hydrocodeine and Xanax in the home. Two months later, they charged David Lore with felony assault by strangulation after authorities said he grabbed his son around the neck in 2009, cutting off his airway.
In November, David and Angela Lore were each found guilty of four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor — with the charges consolidated for sentencing — and possession of drug paraphernalia. Each got 18 months of probation.
The Lores claim in the lawsuit the detectives, social workers and others involved in the case “lacked proper supervision and training.”
“Defendants have a duty to hire and retain only competent employees and to properly supervise and train these employees,” they said in the action.
The couple are not asking for a set monetary amount, but are asking to be awarded compensatory damages and punitive damages “in an amount to be proven at trial.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246
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