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Charles Sullivan’s accuser files a civil lawsuit


As promised two months ago after the State Attorney declined to pursue criminal charges against attorney Charles Sullivan Sr., the former receptionist employed in the office suite he shared has filed a lawsuit in civil court detailing what she says were unwanted sexual acts that caused her bodily and mental harm, as well as loss of income and loss of enjoyment of life and family activities.

Christina Petticrew, 43, who filed the suit under the pseudonym Jane Doe, alleges counts of battery, infliction of emotional distress, negligence and false imprisonment during the time she accuses Sullivan Sr., 83, of holding her down at her desk while molesting her.

Attorney Jerome Stone of Stuart filed the suit.

Stone was one of the attorneys who sued another influential attorney, Willie Gary, as part of a highly publicized Martin County sex case.

The receptionist’s husband, George Petticrew Jr, 41, filing under the pseudonym John Doe, is also suing for “loss of consortium” with his wife, as the suit alleges she is no longer able to fulfill all of her social and relational duties to him and to the family. The husband’s count in the suit also claims that he suffers from the lack of income from his wife’s lost employment.

Sullivan’s lawyers say they will vigorously defend the suit and say that whatever happened between the accuser and the defendant was consensual. They add that the suit is no more than an attempt to get some money.

The complaint outlines the plaintiff’s allegations that Sullivan groped her repeatedly, exposed his penis to her, tried to force sex acts upon her and molested her on June 12. Those same allegations were posed in the criminal case, which caused Sullivan Sr. to be arrested on a probable cause warrant.

The receptionist had been equipped with a wire and sent back into the office twice to confront Sullivan about his actions. Then weeks after Sullivan’s arrest, prosecutors decided not to pursue criminal charges.  Despite the evidence obtained, the lead prosecutor in the case said she felt like she could not get a conviction.

While we withheld identification of Petticrew, as we do of alleged victims in all sex cases, when Sullivan was initially arrested and faced criminal changes, in a civil suit for damages such as the one now filed, we feel it unfair to name the accused and not the accuser.

The suit asks for a judgment for damages, plus the imposition of exemplary damages “so as to punish the Defendant, Sullivan, for his actions and to deter him and others from similar such actions in the future.”

Sullivan Sr’s civil attorney and long-time friend, Louis B. “Buck” Vocelle will be representing him in the case and will likely be filing a counterclaim. "This case has been and is all about the money, evidenced by the fact that, in addition to filing the lawsuit, Mr. Stone also filed a request to produce all of Mr. Sullivan's personal and business insurance,” Vocelle said. “We can't wait for the opportunity to issue subpoenas and take depositions of the plaintiff and her husband."

The suit demands a trial by jury, and a separate request petitions Sullivan Sr. to produce, within 45 days, various documents, recordings, photographs, records, interviews with witnesses and evidence turned over to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, the Vero Beach Police Department and the State Attorney.