ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CN) - A retired police officer claims that his next-door neighbor, also a cop, stalked and threatened him, falsely accused him of being a pedophile, and illegally wiretapped his computer. He claims that the intrusive cop, Monroe County's first deputy trained in computer forensics at Quantico, Va., was convicted of felony eavesdropping and misdemeanor official misconduct.
James Missel sued Monroe County and his neighbor, Michael Hildreth, for harassment and constitutional violations, in Federal Court.
Missel says he is a Vietnam veteran and a former Town of Irondequoit police officer who since his retirement has "spent his time and effort tirelessly assisting the youth in his community."
Former Monroe County deputy Michael Hildreth was an 18-year veteran investigator, and one of the county's first deputies assigned to its computer-crime unit, according to the 19-page complaint.
"Commencing in 2005, Deputy Hildreth's obsession with Missel destroys his own professional judgment," the complaint states. "It is at this juncture that Deputy Hildreth uses the authority of his badge while acting under the color of state law as a deputy for the Monroe County Sheriff's department to ruin Missel, his reputation in the community, and to attempt to force him out of the neighborhood."
Missel claims Hildreth made false complaints to the sheriff, made "consistent and unabated threats to arrest and imprison" him, and stalking and aggressive behavior," capped off by "taping a large rotting fish head on Missel's car."
Missel claims that Hildreth, "acting under the color of state law," visited "each and every organization for which Missel was hired to assist children," and informed all of them "that Missel is a pedophile and that he should be terminated and asked not to return."
Missel says those allegations are "ridiculously and outrageously false."
Nonetheless, he say, "As a result of Deputy Hildreth's actions, Missel was terminated and/or asked not to return at the Mom & Me )MOPS) program at the Browncroft Community Church, the Rochester Christian School, and the Penfield and Webster Recreation Departments, depriving Missel of his standing in the community and post-retirement income."
The bizarre complaint continues: "Frustrated by his inability to provoke Missel," and stymied by an official investigation of Missel "which produced no leads," Hildreth "devised a plan to install the spyware program 'eBlaster' on Missel's computer so that he could monitor Missel's every keystroke entered and Web site visited on Missel's computer in order to effectuate the arrest of Missel for... downloading child pornography."
The eBlaster spyware can be installed remotely on computers and does not require physical access, according to the company's website.
Missel says Hildreth tried to install the spyware by sending him an email in which Hildreth pretended to be "Robin Mattox," who wanted Missel's help with a "BlueBird field trip."
A subsequent email from "Robin Mattox" asked Missel to open an attachment "to fill out for the purported field trip," the complaint states.
Missel claims that when he "informed 'Robin Mattox' via e-mail that he could not open the attachment," he received a third email from the imaginary Mattox, who wrote:
I have been informed by the administration that you are listed on the County Educational No Contact List. I would assume that you already had knowledge that you were not to have contact with school children within Monroe County, and I feel that I have been unwittingly used in your attempts. While the list does not specify what actions you made that got you on the list, the vague description, 'Inappropriate Actions with a Grade School Female' only leave [sic] the worse assumptions on my mind. I am embarrassed that I almost put my students at risk.
"As a result of this, I must inform you that you are not to attempt to contact me or any BOCES children by any means, including email, telephone or personal visits or contact.
"Any violation of this warning will result in your arrest for harassment. Additionally, you are not to be on the school grounds of BOCES. If found on the school grounds, you will be arrested for trespass.
" - Robin Mattox"
Missel says he is not on the "County Educational No Contact List," and that Hildreth followed up this threat with a personal visit, in which the deputy told him "You better have a for sale sign on your house before July 15 or I'm going to get you. You'll wish you had moved. I'm going to tell your wife, your pastor, your kids, and you'll be sorry you didn't move. I have a big file on you. I'm going to ruin you if you don't move. I know about Robin Mattox and Boces.
" (Emphasis in original. The complaint does not elucidate what BOCES is.)
Missel says he reported that threatening visit to the sheriff, and that an Internal Affairs investigation culminated in Hildreth's being convicted of felony eavesdropping and a misdemeanor of official misconduct. He says Hildreth was fired and sentenced to 5 years probation.
But despite all this, Missel says, Monroe County has since "permitted Hildreth to stalk the plaintiff's residence and himself personally" with impunity, in violation of an order of protection. He says the former deputy continues to photograph and videotape him, and even mounted a spy camera on his back roof facing Missel's property.
Missel demands punitive damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and constitutional violations. He is represented by Christina Agola.