Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lunsford withdraws threat to sue Citrus sheriff

INVERNESS — Mark Lunsford isn't going to sue the Citrus County Sheriff's Office after all.

Lunsford agreed to rescind his threat of a wrongful death lawsuit Friday after a three-hour meeting with Citrus Sheriff Jeff Dawsy.

He pledged to work with Dawsy and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to improve policies for child abduction investigations.

"We didn't unearth anything marvelous. We just answered some questions, came up with some direction," Dawsy said.

A month ago, the father-turned-crusader filed notice that he planned to sue the Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for mishandling the 2005 disappearance and death of his 9-year-old daughter Jessica.

Lunsford and his attorneys demanded that Dawsy concede that he made mistakes during the investigation. The sheriff adamantly stood behind his agency's work.

The lawsuit sparked a backlash in the community and prompted nasty exchanges between the two parties. As late as Friday morning, the Sheriff's Office indicated a resolution was unlikely. But that changed when Lunsford and Dawsy emerged from their meeting at Lunsford's parents' home in Homosassa and held a joint news conference.

"There was no admission of any wrongdoing," Dawsy said. "Mark never asked for that."

Lunsford, who initiated the meeting, called it a great conversation but refused to divulge much of what was said because it was private.

"I've said ever since the beginning, and I'll stick to it, that the sheriff's department did everything they knew how to do," he said. In an interview afterward, Lunsford said his lawyers advised him to file the notice to preserve the possibility of a lawsuit before a time limit expired.

He wanted to focus attention on law enforcement procedures in missing children cases, but blamed the media, in particular shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, for sensationalizing the story. Clem had been particularly critical of Lunsford on his radio show.

"You guys turned this into a circus and never said jack about policies and procedures," Lunsford said of the media.

Lunsford's attorney, Eric Block of Jacksonville, said he knew about the meeting, but Lunsford never told him about a settlement. In a telephone interview after the press conference, Block kept the door open for a potential lawsuit but wouldn't say anything more about the issue.

Lunsford withdraws threat to sue Citrus sheriff 03/28/08 [Last modified: Saturday, March 29, 2008 12:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Electricity poles and lines lay toppled on the road after Hurricane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. [Associated Press]
  2. From the archives: Account of famed Riggs-King match heightens Tampa mob intrigue

    Tennis

    With Friday's opening of "Battle of the Sexes" — the movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell about Billie Jean King's landmark 1973 tennis win over Bobby Riggs — we thought there might be renewed interest in this 2013 Peter Jamison story from the Tampa Bay Times.

    Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes."  [Melinda Sue Gordon, Fox Searchlight Pictures]
  3. Bowen: Humanitarian Roy Hardy raised hope, diminished hunger

    Obituaries

    The lines on Roy Hardy's resume are simple: retailer, rancher, amateur barbecue chef, recreational fisherman.

     Philanthropist Roy Hardy, shown here in 2007, stirs up the baked beans at a Kiwanis club charity fish fry. Mr. Hardy died Sept. 19 at the age of 93.



  4. Halloween Horror Nights: 'The Shining,' 'Saw' and more things to give you nightmares at Universal Orlando

    Blogs

    The 27th year of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights will scare the pants off you -- in the best possible way.

    The scare zone inspired by horror flick Trick r' Treat is one of the most beautiful at this year's Halloween Horror Nights 27.
  5. 10th resident from sweltering Hollywood nursing home dies

    Public Safety

    A 10th person from the Hollywood nursing home that turned into a deadly hothouse after the facility lost power following Hurricane Irma has died, Hollywood police said.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]