AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – A downtown Auburn bar owner, appealing his misdemeanor Sexual Misconduct conviction, is filing a federal lawsuit against his female accuser, the Auburn police detective who worked the case, and the City of Auburn. The suit alleges several violations including a claim the City of Auburn improperly notified the community he was a registered sex offender.
In May of 2022, an Auburn City Judge found Sky Bar’s co-owner Pat Grider guilty of misdemeanor Sexual Misconduct. According to the criminal complaint, Grider committed the offense in January 2022. The complaint reads while at Sky Bar Grider groped an employee’s breasts, put another woman’s underpants in her face, and offered her money to make out and let him perform oral sex. The employee quit and filed charges. Grider was arrested by Auburn police, then found guilty by a city judge in May 2022 during a bench trial.
Grider is appealing. East Alabama attorney Davis Whittelsey represents Grider as his defense attorney.
“Judge Jim McLaughlin found Pat guilty in the absence of any evidence in my very firm opinion,” said Whittelsey.
Whittelsey says the City of Auburn demanded Grider register as a sex offender, which Grider did, while his case was on appeal awaiting a jury trial set for March 27, 2023, at the Lee County Justice Center. The trial still hasn’t happened.
“He is not a sex offender. But he did, out of an abundance of caution, register with the City of Auburn as if he were a convicted sex offender because if you are wrong in the interpretation of the law he is subject to the prosecution of a Felony,” argued Whittelsey.
In the lawsuit, Whittelsey argues on or about March 15, 2023, Auburn and APD wrongfully released a public notification regarding Grider’s registering as a sex offender. In the lawsuit, Whittelsey argues the law does not require public notification for sexual misconduct. Whittelsey says families who live near Grider, along with schools, Auburn University, daycares, and other entities received notifications with Grider’s picture, physical description, and offense reading: “The individual named in this notification is a convicted sex offender. The Auburn Police Department has been informed that this individual resides in your area. In accordance with Alabama State Law Under the Community Notifications Act, the Auburn Police Department is required to notify you that the listed individual will establish residence in Lee County. This information is made available for the purpose of protecting the public. Anyone who uses this information to commit a criminal act against another person is subject to criminal prosecution.“
The lawsuit alleges Grider’s reputation was damaged among other injuries. Whittelsey says Grider received threats of harm and alleges Grider’s registration went viral on social media.
“When we say Pat registered, we say he signed a booklet that said he had been convicted in a municipal court but the conviction was on appeal and we did it under the belief Auburn Police Department, of all people, would follow the law and would not send out a publication listing an innocent man as a registered sex offender two weeks before a jury trial. It was done in an obvious effort to taint the jury,” said Whittelsey.
The lawsuit demands remedies including a public retraction and monetary damages.
WRBL did reach out to the City of Auburn for a comment on the lawsuit. A representative says they cannot comment on ongoing legal matters.
Grider’s jury trial on the sexual misconduct charge is now slated for June at the Lee County Justice Center.