The ACLU of Iowa has filed a lawsuit against Adams County Sheriff’s Office, alleging they violated a man’s free speech rights by arresting him for profanity-laden Facebook post.
The sheriff’s office charged Jon Goldsmith with third-degree harassment for what they described as threatening language in a July 2018 Facebook post. In the post, he called Cory Dorsey, a deputy sheriff, “a f—— pile of s—” and a “stupid sum b—-“, and said, about Dorsey, “when you get s— canned I’ll hire you to walk my dog and pick up his s—.”
Sgt. Paul Hogan filed a criminal complaint against Goldsmith days later, claiming he “did intentionally write a threatening and vulgar statement about Cory Dorsey on Facebook.”
Goldsmith said he wrote the Facebook post after he saw how Dorsey interacted with attendees at the “Lazy Days and Battle of the BBQ” festival in downtown Corning. He said he saw Dorsey stop a car for a faulty brake light before he forced everyone out of the vehicle, patted them down and searched the truck with a drug sniffing K-9. No drugs were found in the vehicle.
Goldsmith added that Dorsey body slammed a man named Mike Arthur to the ground.
When Goldsmith saw Arthur’s booking photo on the sheriff’s office Facebook page the next day, he got angry and made his post.
After Goldsmith was charged with harassment, he kept the text of the post in an email to his wife and then deleted the post and deactivated his Facebook profile.
“A visit to his physician following the filing of charges against him showed that Goldsmith’s blood pressure was abnormally high and dangerous, and he was given a prescription medication to lower it to within the normal range,” the lawsuit said.
In addition to seeking damages for Goldsmith, the ACLU of Iowa said it wants to bring attention to a more widespread problem.
“It’s not just about Jon and what occurred to him, but it’s a fact that a lot of people, we would suspect, in Adams County, are being told that they can’t criticize law enforcement officials,” said Glen Downey, a cooperating attorney with the ACLU of Iowa. “This lawsuit is to remind law that they can’t be engaging in that behavior, that they have to allow that criticism, no matter what.”