Officer not immune from lawsuit in child's death


Lafayette - A former Tippecanoe County sheriff's deputy who lied during a deposition that he had seen a 4-year-old abuse victim who later died is not immune from a wrongful death lawsuit, a judge has ruled.

Glen Keller of Lafayette is named in a lawsuit filed by the mother and grandparents of Aiyana Gauvin.

Keller had asked to have the case against him dismissed because he was acting within the scope of his duties as a deputy. But Special Judge Thomas Milligan of Montgomery County denied his motion in a recent order, saying Keller violated department policies by lying to dispatchers.

"Deputy Keller's lying was without the authorization of the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department," Milligan wrote. " ... In fact, if lying were acceptable to law enforcement and considered within the scope of employment the whole fabric of society would be destroyed and anarchy would reign."

Milligan ruled that the county was not liable because Keller acted outside the scope of his employment.

Keller, a three-year member of the sheriff's department, was dispatched June 5, 2004, to the home of Michelle and Christian Gauvin to investigate a complaint that Christian Gauvin's 4-year-old daughter, Aiyana, had been abused.

Keller told supervisors that he had checked on the girl and found her uninjured. He repeated that account in an Oct. 28 deposition at the Tippecanoe County prosecutor's office. Two days later, however, Keller admitted to Sheriff Smokey Anderson that he had never seen the girl during his visit to the home, speaking only to the parents at the home's door.

Aiyana died in March - nine months after Keller's stop at the home - from blunt force trauma to her head after what investigators suspect was months of abuse by her father and stepmother. Michelle Gauvin is serving a life sentence for murder in the girl's death. Christian Gauvin is serving a 50-year sentence for neglect.

Keller was convicted of perjury.

Information from: Journal and Courier

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This story may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.