Shaker Heights detective Jessica Page went "rogue" and concealed from prosecutors and defense attorneys a drawing of the classroom where the girl said Mark Newton attacked her in 2013 that contradicted other evidence, Russo said in delivering a strongly-worded opinion Thursday.
Had Page handed over the drawing to prosecutors before they took the case to a grand jury, Newton might have never even been indicted, Russo said.
"I am not here to surmise or comment on what motivated detective Page to veer this far afield from lawful duty," Russo said. "However the law requires that when a court is provided evidence of a breach of duty of this magnitude, provided evidence of such a flagrant disregard for the laws we live under, and provided evidence of prejudice and the deprivation of constitutional protections, the court must act and dismiss the charges with prejudice."
The opinion means Newton cannot be charged in the case again, though prosecutors may be able to appeal. Office spokesman Ryan Miday said the office was reviewing Russo's opinion and weighing their options.
Miday declined to comment further.
"The seriousness of these findings warrant a comprehensive review and examination of this investigation as well as the methods for presenting information to the county prosecutor's office," Shaker Heights police commander John Cole said.
Newton cried as he hugged his lawyer, Paul Daiker, and his wife after Russo delivered the opinion.
"I hope now I can move on with my life and have a good life going forward," Newton said.
The existence of the second diagram was unearthed during the girl's testimony Tuesday, the second day of Newton's trial on two counts each of rape, sexual battery, kidnapping and abduction.
Page met with the girl in March 2015 and created a diagram of the equipment room, which depicted several buckets of softballs. Page interviewed more witnesses in the following months, including Newton and another teacher at the school whose accounts of the room contradicted the girl's statement, Russo's order notes.
Page then asked for another interview with the girl to discuss the discrepancies, and produced a second diagram of the room. But that diagram was not contained in the investigative file when Shaker Heights police gave it to prosecutors before the case went to a grand jury.
They immediately moved to dismiss the case, but Russo allowed the girl to continue her testimony, and she allowed prosecutors and the defense to question Page.
Page and another detective took the stand on Wednesday, and the two testified that the other detective approached Page about the diagram, which he said he had seen, and she denied that it existed.
"If it existed, it is in the file," Page said.
Assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor Maggie Kane had asked about a possible second diagram in April, about a month before Newton was set to begin trial, the opinion notes.
Page told Kane that she will have the document in a few days, even though "she knew the document had been destroyed," Russo's opinion notes.
The diagram was such a key piece of evidence because more than a year passed before the girl came forward with the accusations, leaving police detectives and prosecutors with little physical evidence.
In openings on Monday, assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor Maggie Kane asked Russo to "listen to the victim" and her detailed descriptions of the equipment room.
Newton's lawyers countered that they had planned to call teachers who would show that the room had been converted to an art room and had not used as an equipment room at the time of the attacks were said to have occurred.
Russo's 11-page opinion painted Page as a detective who crossed the line from searching for the truth to advocating for her girl. Page became "hell bent" on either convicting Newton or, at the least, ruining his career, Russo said.
In police interviews of the girl, Page made several comments that Russo said showed a "disturbing" personal attachment to the case and a bias in favor of the girl.
In one case, Page said that the stigma of being accused of sexual assault is just as bad as being convicted for it, the opinion says.
"All someone has to do is Google Mark Newton and the accusations 'child rapist' will appear,'" Russo said, quoting Page's comments to the girl.
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