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Former Franklin County District Attorney Convicted of Civil Rights Violations Against Probationers

WASHINGTON—Former District Attorney John Pilati for Franklin County, Ala. was convicted today by a federal jury on five counts for violating the civil rights of five young men by subjecting them to unreasonable searches while acting under color of law, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Rena J. Comisac and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Alice H. Martin announced.

Between March 2001 and February 2004, while serving as District Attorney, Pilati administered drug tests to young male prisoners and probationers. During the course of administering the drug tests, Pilati repeatedly fondled the genitals of the young men, who ranged in age from 16 to 20 years old at the time. The victims' testimony demonstrated a pattern of sexual abuse of the young men. Pilati faces up to one year of incarceration for each of the five counts of the conviction.

"Misconduct by law enforcement officials will not be tolerated, particularly when it involves young people,” stated Acting Assistant Attorney General Comisac. “The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute such instances of misconduct.”

The case was tried in Florence, Ala. The conviction was the result of an investigation by FBI Special Agent Patrick Stokes and Alabama Attorney General's Office Investigator Christopher McRaye. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Christine Dunn and Stephen Curran from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“Pilati’s actions were outrageous violations of these young men’s civil rights and today’s guilty verdicts are an important step in the recovery process for these victims. I thank Ms. Dunn and Mr. Curran for the assistance given this office by the Civil Rights Division. Together we will continue to work to protect the civil rights of citizens,” stated U.S. Attorney Martin.

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the aggressive enforcement of the nation’s civil rights laws. In the past six years, the Division has convicted nearly 50 percent more defendants for color of law, or official misconduct, violations than in the previous six years. The Division continues to set records in the enforcement of criminal civil law. Last year, the Division convicted 189 defendants for civil rights violations, which is a record number in the 50-year history of the Division. Last year’s record broke the record set in 2006.