A University of Minnesota law professor who spent three weeks in jail on sexual assault charges before they were dismissed is suing his accuser for defamation.
The Hennepin County attorney’s office dropped charges against Francesco Parisi on March 9 after saying there was no evidence to support the allegations.
Parisi, 54, also teaches law in Italy. He is a speaker, author and editor, and since 2004 has served as a nominator for the Nobel Prize in economics, according to the lawsuit. Parisi said he has lost income and his reputation “has been irreparably damaged by the false and slanderous statements” made by his accuser, whom the Star Tribune is not naming. He asked for damages of at least $50,000.
“If nothing happens to her,” Parisi said of the suit and his accuser, “it would be a license for her and others like her … to harm someone out of vindictiveness or craziness, and to do so with immunity.”
The woman has not been charged with filing a false police report, and it’s unclear whether that will happen.
“Every statement [in the criminal charge] can be proven false in a matter of minutes,” he said. “I’m still hoping charges can be brought against her. This is not a matter of insufficient evidence. This is a matter of affirmative lies.”
In a court filing dismissing the charges, Assistant County Attorney Justin Wesley wrote that efforts to corroborate the woman’s accusations were unsuccessful.
“Considering all of the evidence that we have now, the charges are no longer supported by probable cause and are hereby dismissed in the interests of justice.”
Parisi said he is not sure whether he will sue the Hennepin County attorney’s office for bringing the charges. Under state law, the office has immunity from prosecution and lawsuits if they are acting within the scope of their duties.
“They can carelessly, negligently, recklessly and maliciously bring this kind of charge,” said Parisi’s attorney, John Braun.
Neither the accuser or her attorney, Wynn Curtiss, could be reached for comment. Court records show Parisi and the woman had an extensive court battle over real estate before the charges were leveled.
According to court and police records, the 55-year-old woman said she had known Parisi since 2014, when the two had an intimate relationship. The two agreed to buy a condo in December 2014.
But the relationship soured in January 2015. By March, Parisi filed a lawsuit to cancel the purchase agreement. She filed an order for protection that same day, accusing him of preventing her from leaving his apartment and of yelling and screaming at her in January.
Early the next month she countersued him over the purchase cancellation attempt but made no mention of the alleged assault. In April 2015, the restraining order was dismissed following a settlement.
She filed two more complaints against him over the property, and for the first time in a January 2016 filing accused him of beating her — but she made no mention of rape.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Parisi in the property dispute in June 2016. Two weeks later, the woman reported to police that Parisi had sexually assaulted her in January 2015, according to records. According to the Hennepin County attorney’s office, that report was never forwarded for potential charges.
The woman filed for another order for protection against him in August 2016, saying that Parisi sexually assaulted and stalked her. That order was dismissed in October after another settlement.
Court records show the woman had filed orders for protection against other people in unrelated cases.
Brandon Stahl • 612-673-4626