An Arapahoe County District Court judge in Colorado has ordered an ex-social worker to pay $3 million in damages to Aurora Councilwoman Danielle Jurinsky after she filed a false child abuse report against the councilwoman.
Jurinsky sued former Arapahoe County social worker Robin Niceta for allegations of libel, slander, and "extreme and outrageous conduct."
"This award is made, in part, 'to send a message that this kind of conduct cannot and should not be tolerated by anybody,'" Judge Elizabeth Beebe Volz wrote in her order, according to Fox News.
The social worker's accusations against the councilwoman were proven false by investigators, according to KDRV-TV.
As CBN News reported in August, Niceta is the ex-partner of former Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, who was fired last April, multiple media outlets have reported.
The abuse accusations against Jurinsky were made after she denounced Police Chief Wilson during a radio interview in January of 2022.
The phone call with the tip about the councilwoman's alleged abuse came the day after that radio interview from a phone number listed by Niceta in her personnel file, KDVR reports.
Glendale Police later filed two charges against Niceta. One for retaliation against an elected official and another related to her role as a child services worker when she allegedly made the report, according to the outlet.
She made her first appearance in court last July. She has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges, according to KMGH-TV.
Niceta resigned from her job in May and turned herself in to the police after accusations against her surfaced.
The judge's ruling follows the $1 million lawsuit filed by Jurinsky against Niceta last August.
In her written decision last month, Judge Volz ruled Jurinsky suffered harm to her reputation, humiliation, and emotional distress. The judge wrote that Niceta's conduct "was willful and wanton and done with actual malice. Further, the Court finds that the conduct was especially egregious since it was done by a person tasked with protecting children and knew full well that her false report would result in an investigation and potential separation of a young vulnerable child and a parent, with unknown potential harm to that child."
Fox News reports Niceta failed to appear for any of the court dates in the false report case, pushing the judge to enter into a default judgment against Niceta. Of the $3 million awarded to Jurinsky, $1.5 million is allotted for actual damages, and the other $1.5 million for punitive damages.
"In my lifetime I will not see $3 million from Robin Niceta," Jurinsky told KCNC-TV after the judge's ruling was issued. She added that she was focused on holding "Robin accountable for her actions against me," and was not focused on the monetary award.
Jurinksy told the outlet she's focused on the former county social worker's criminal trial that starts May 9.
In addition, the parents of a 14-year-old girl who was moved into foster care for a year also filed a federal lawsuit in August against former social worker Niceta, the ACDHS, the director of that agency, a supervisor there, two other child abuse case workers, and the county commissioners, The Gazette reported. The parents allege "false testimony" from Niceta, who was a county social services case worker at the time, caused a judge, who later resigned after facing her own allegations of impropriety, to continue to keep their child in foster care when no reason existed to do so.
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