A Hillsboro man has filed a civil rights lawsuit against a Highland County Sheriff’s Office sergeant “for compensatory and punitive damages arising from [a] false arrest and malicious prosecution.”

According to the complaint with jury demand filed in United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Aaron B. Roberts of Hillsboro states that Chris Bowen allegedly “intentionally or recklessly caused Mr. Roberts to be arrested and prosecuted for drug trafficking despite photographic and video evidence confirming that Mr. Roberts was innocent of the crime.”

Bowen is a sergeant for the Highland County Sheriff’s Office and is being “sued in his personal capacity.”

Court documents say that Roberts was arrested by Hillsboro police officers Nov. 23, 2015 and was “handcuffed, booked, processed and jailed until he was released by order of the Highland County Court of Common Pleas on Nov. 24, 2015.”

“Roberts was released and the charges against him were immediately dismissed because the Highland County prosecutor realized Mr. Roberts had very obviously not committed the crime for which he was arrested,” according to the court document.

Bowen “conducted a narcotics investigation using a confidential informant in June 2015,” during which the informant “made contact with a drug dealer who he knew by the name of ‘Aaron Roberts’” and purchased heroin, according to the court document.

During this transaction, a “concealed video camera … captured images of the dealer, which Defendant Bowen viewed, and from which he obtained ‘screen captures’ – still photos that clearly showed the dealer’s face, as well as other identifying features, such as prominent tattoos,’” the court document says. “The Plaintiff, unlike the dealer, has no tattoos.”

The court document alleges that “except for the fact that the two men were both white males, there is virtually nothing in common between the two.” However, the lawsuit alleges that Bowen “falsely stated in his report that he had made a positive identification using the screen captures and the Plaintiff’s license photograph, and provided this report to the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office. He included only the license photograph, not the screen captures, with his report, and did not note the identifying tattoos with his report.”

Based on this report, a Highland County grand jury indicted Roberts on felony heroin trafficking and possession charges in October 2015, for which he was arrested Nov. 23. Roberts “immediately informed the arresting police officers that he was not the perpetrator of the crimes with which he was charged.” According to the lawsuit, jail officers “began investigating further to determine whether they had the right suspect.”

The lawsuit alleges that jail officers “attempted to contact Defendant Bowen, but could not reach him” early Nov. 24, and that when he returned their call “several hours later,” he allegedly “again falsely claimed he had made a positive identification.”

“Bowen did not provide the jail officers with the screen captures or inform them of the identifying tattoos from the photos,” according to court documents. “This reiteration by Defendant Bowen of his false report further extended [Roberts’] detention.”

According to the lawsuit, Roberts was released Nov. 24 when Highland County Prosecutor Anneka Collins was asked to review the case and “immediately saw [Roberts’] driver’s license photograph bore no resemblance to the actual perpetrator pictured in the informant’s video. She also noticed that the informant’s images showed prominent tattoos on the dealer, when the Plaintiff had none.” The charges against Roberts were dismissed, and he was released from jail during the afternoon of Nov. 24, according to court documents.

The lawsuit alleges that Bowen’s actions “were wanton, willful, reckless, in bad faith and in knowing violation of the Plaintiff’s rights” and have caused Roberts “loss of liberty, anxiety, anger, humiliation and stress.”

“The effects of the false charges against him will likely follow him personally and professionally for the rest of his life,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also adds that the sheriff’s office “has still not arrested or prosecuted the actual perpetrator.” “[Roberts] was prosecuted, arrested and detained for no purpose whatsoever,” it says.

Roberts is seeking “judgment against the defendant and requests compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $200,000.” He is being represented by Jeffrey Paul Vardaro and Frederick Martin Gittes of The Gittes Law Group.

Bowen is being represented by Grant Bacon and Melanie J. Williamson of Fishel Hass Kim Albrecht Downey LLP. An answer to Roberts’ complaint has been filed, in which Bowen denies the allegations and claims to have “acted in good faith and with probable cause.” Bowen’s attorneys are asking that Roberts’ “claims be dismissed in their entirety and with prejudice.”

The case has been assigned to Judge Susan J. Dlott. There are no court dates scheduled as of Dec. 29.

Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera declined to comment on the pending litigation against Bowen.