An Arapahoe County District Court judge has ordered former caseworker Robin Niceta to pay Aurora Councilwoman Danielle Jurinsky $3 million in damages after making an unfounded child sexual abuse report against Jurinsky.
Jurinsky sued Niceta, the ex-partner of former Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, over allegations of libel, slander and “extreme and outrageous conduct.” The councilwoman has said the report, which an investigation did not find evidence to support, was retaliation for criticizing Niceta’s then-partner Wilson, including Jurinsky calling her “trash” on a talk-radio show before Wilson was ultimately fired.
The councilwoman has also brought a class-action lawsuit against the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services on behalf of multiple families and names Niceta in that lawsuit.
And Niceta faces criminal charges over the allegations and that case is expected to go to trial in May.
In an order dated Dec. 23, District Judge Elizabeth Volz awarded Jurinsky the $3 million after Niceta failed to respond to the lawsuit.
Although Jurinsky does not expect to get the full $3 million from Niceta, she said she’s thankful to the judge for sending a clear message that this shouldn’t happen to anyone and that she’s gearing up for justice in the criminal trial.
The lawsuits are not about the money, Jurinsky said — she’s paying the legal fees for other families in the class-action lawsuit. She wants to ensure Arapahoe County Department of Human Services makes changes.
“There are too many victims that have come forward from Robin,” Jurinsky said in an interview. “There’s too much. There’s overwhelming evidence of a failure to supervise.”
In a hearing to discuss damages, the judge wrote that Jurinsky made a brief statement before being overcome with emotion and had to leave the courtroom. Her father, Jerry Jurinsky, testified about the emotional and mental toll of the false report on his daughter, according to the order.
Jurinsky had asked for $3 million and money to cover legal costs. The judge determined that $100,000 per day over 15 days of the investigation, totaling $1.5 million was appropriate. And another $1.5 million was awarded in “exemplary damages,” the judge wrote, finding that Niceta’s “conduct was willful and wanton and done with actual malice.”
Additionally, Volz wrote, she found Niceta’s false report “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.”
She wrote that part of the reason for the amount in damages is to send a message saying that kind of behavior won’t be tolerated by anyone.
Arapahoe County did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. An attempt to reach Niceta was also unsuccessful.
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