Riley later claimed that Goforth smirked at her — something he denies — and said she felt the baptism was wrong. The event had nothing to do with saving her soul, she said, but instead was about “power and control.”
Riley initially pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance but the charges were dismissed. She eventually sued the two deputies, alleging that they had violated her freedom of religion, that they had failed to protect her and that the search of her car had been unreasonable. She also accused them of battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Wilkey, according to news reports, faces at least five federal lawsuits and has been indicted on 44 counts of alleged criminal conduct. The Chattanooga Times Free Press has reported that Wilkey and Goforth are no longer deputies.
The judge rejected several of Riley’s claims, including the allegation that the two deputies had conspired to baptize her, but also rejected Goforth’s claim that the baptism had been voluntary. “No government interest is furthered by the baptism of a detainee by an on-duty law-enforcement officer,” McDonough wrote.
Furthermore, Goforth had a duty to intervene to stop it, the judge wrote.
“And a reasonable jury could conclude that Goforth had both notice of the violation and an opportunity to stop the baptism. Accordingly, Goforth is not entitled to summary judgment on Riley’s First Amendment claim,” the judge ruled.
This article originally appeared here.