WILKES-BARRE — A Nanticoke man found not guilty on charges of criminal trespass and assault has filed a federal lawsuit against the Luzerne County District Attorney’s office and a county detective, saying he was hit with false charges due to an accuser’s family ties to law enforcement.
Damian Caban, 46, was arrested in December 2015 when his relationship with Janelle Everetts Skipalis took a turn for the worse.
The two were engaged to be married and living together, according to Caban’s suit. But on Dec. 19, 2015, the suit alleges Skipalis broke the engagement off and asked Caban to leave their Hanover Township home.
After an argument, the suit says Caban was charged with counts of criminal trespass, simple assault and harassment — charges which came from Luzerne County Detective Charles Balogh, who the suit identifies as Skipalis’ uncle.
Caban said the charges were filed with malice and “without any investigation.”
He was hit with additional counts of terroristic threats, reckless endangerment and an additional count of simple assault after his preliminary hearing.
Caban said those charges came after an alleged threat from Assistant District Attorney Angela Sperrazza. The suit claims Sperrazza told him before the hearing he would face additional counts if he didn’t plead guilty.
Records show the additional charges were filed after the preliminary hearing in April 2016.
Caban’s case went to trial after being transferred to the Attorney General’s office. He was cleared of all counts by a jury on May 16, 2017.
Caban also claims Balogh is still in possession of the engagement ring he purchased for Skipalis.
In his suit, Caban argues his constitutional rights to a proper investigation were violated, claiming Balogh engaged in “wrongful acts,” and the charges were filed without probable cause.
Caban is seeking compensation for humiliation, pain and suffering, lost wages and legal fees. He is seeking compensation from both Balogh and the District Attorney’s office.
Luzerne County DA Stefanie Salavantis did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan