Anne Marie Rasmusson sues cops who accessed her record
Today in federal court, attorneys for Anne Marie Rasmusson -- the subject of our February cover story "Is This Woman Too Hot to Have a Driver's License?" -- filed a lawsuit against the agencies, individual officers, and governing bodies involved in an audit of the Driver and Vehicle Services database. The audit, which spanned the years 2007 to 2011, found that Rasmusson's driver's record had been access 425 times by 104 officers in 18 different agencies.
According to the suit, the look-ups were specifically of Rasmusson's name -- not her driver's license number or license plate number -- and that some accesses of her private data were just to see what she looked like.
"Each unauthorized use of her private information, made while acting under color of state law, violated Rasmusson's federal civil rights and constituted behavior prohibited by federal statute," the suit alleges.
Rasmusson, a former Eden Prairie and St. Paul police officer, went on medical retirement in 2003. Since 2006, she heard rumors from friends still on the force that her driver's license record was being accessed improperly. In August 2011, she made a formal complaint to the Department of Public Safety, who conducted the audit.
Despite the fact that Rasmusson does not know all the names of the officers who accessed her record, the list of defendants is lengthy. It includes the handful of officers who've been named in disciplinary actions by their departments: Eden Prairie officers Carter Staaf, Zachary Hessel, and Christopher Millard; Bloomington Police Sergeant Charles Gollop; Eagan Police Officers Sean Sweeney; and State Patrol officers Dean Grothem and Chris Erickson. The cities of Bloomington, Burnsville, Cottage Grove, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Lakeville, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Ramsey County, and the University of Minnesota are named. The suit also lists 120 John and Jane Doe officers and supervisors whose names her attorneys do not know.
The suit argues out that since punishment so far has been inconsistent -- from a demotion in Eden Prairie to no discipline for 24 Minneapolis officers who looked Rasmusson up 133 times -- it's clear that "this illegal access appears to be widespread and pervasive throughout departments, and is a custom and practice. This is demonstrated by the tolerance of this practice, and customary disregard of punishment for violations."
Rasmusson is seeking over $1 million in damages, as well as an injunctions barring the defendants from looking her up or harassing her in any way. She's also requested permission to list a P.O. box on her driver's license in lieu of an actual address.
COVER STORY: Is Anne Marie Rasmusson too hot to have a driver's license?
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