ERIK NIELSEN - Standard Journal
REXBURG - A former Rexburg resident has filed a tort claim against Madison County in connection with a domestic violence case involving her ex-husband, a former Madison County sheriff's deputy.
The claim was filed by Jenetta Jesperson, who now lives in Idaho Falls. At the time of the incident she was married to Rudy Lopez, a deputy with the sheriff's office, and living in Rexburg.
Also in connection with the case, Lopez has been charged with a misdemeanor count of domestic battery and is awaiting a pretrial hearing Aug. 25.
Jesperson claims the sheriff's office did not respond correctly to an incident involving her husband. According to the claim Jesperson called 911 in the early morning hours of April 11 during a domestic dispute.
She alleges that after she called the Madison County dispatcher, her home received a separate call to Lopez, who responded that everything was under control and canceled the 911 call.
According to Lt. Travis Williams of the Sheriff's Office, the sheriff's office sent a deputy to the residence, but by the time authorities arrived Jesperson had left.
Later, she pressed charges against Lopez in Bonneville County.
"He was placed on administrative leave that morning and had not come back to work," Williams says .
The paid leave ended when Lopez opted to resign last month.
Lopez worked as a patrol sergeant and was with the sheriff's office for six years.
"He was an outstanding deputy," Williams says.
Since his resignation a new deputy as yet to step into his job.
Williams said it was clear when the incident occurred that further investigation into it was a conflict of interest, and outside investigators were called in.
A detective from Jefferson County and Bonneville County officers investigated the case, and an internal investigation was conducted and completed. Williams said he couldn't go into the findings of that investigation.
Clark County Prosecutor Craig Simpson was called to prosecute Lopez for the county on the misdemeanor charge.
Simpson has requested evidence, which includes recorded interviews and videos documenting injuries Jesperson and Lopez may have received in the interview. He has also requested recordings of the dispatch calls.
Court records state the battery incident took place in front of Jesperson's 3-year-old and 15-month-old sons.
Lopez divorced Jesperson later that month, stating irreconcilable differences.
The amount Jesperson is requesting on the tort claim has not been listed claiming that the costs and expenses of damages are continuing to accrue.
A tort claim is a notice to a public entity that a private individual plans to file a lawsuit against it.
The entity has several options for dealing with tort claims, from ignoring them, which leads to automatic denial of the claim after 30 days, to turning them over to the agency's insurance company to settle.