Error Tags Man as Sexual Predator
May 22, 2012
What started as a minor charge in Oakland County
Michigan was transformed into a serious sexual offence by the county
computer system and caused a thirty-five year old man to be arrested for
failure to register as a sexual predator when he moved to Chicago. A lawsuit
filed on behalf of Jason Zdebski alleges hundreds of people in Oakland
county charged with minor offences be erroneously labeled as sexual
According to a
recent article in the Detroit Free Press, " The lawsuit was filed on
behalf of Jason Zdebski, 35, who says the practice caused him to be charged
criminally with failing to register as a sex offender in Illinois. He said
the coding also cost him his job as general manager of a restaurant and
caused him to be publicly branded as a child molester and shunned by his
Indeed he may have lost his job and been shunned by
neighbors when his name and picture appeared on the Illinois State Police
sexual predators. The Illinois State database may repeat the same error
when it accuses Jason Zdebski of the crime of 'Aggravated criminal sexual
abuse/victim 13-16" but states on the same page that the victim was over the
age of 21.
Zdebski's troubles began in 2003 when he pleaded
contest to charges he exposed himself to an undercover officer in
Oakland County Michigan and was sentenced to six months probation.
Zdebski moved to Chicago in 2006 and contacted local
police to see if he needed to register as a sex offender and was told
registration was not necessary. Zdebski landed a job as the general manager
for a restaurant and went on with his life unaware that a computer error in
Oakland County would turn his life upside-down four years later.
In 2010, federal marshals arrested him on a charge of
failing to register as a sex offender. In court, the prosecutor called him a
child molester and asked that bond be set at $125,000.
Zdebski's attorney, Jonathan Marko petitioned Oakland
County Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot to correct the problem but before a
hearing could be held, a prosecutor acknowledged the problem and Chabot
ordered that the issue be corrected.
Marko watched as Chabot's clerk re-entered the proper
conviction code for Zdebski and was amazed to see the computer still got it
wrong. This time the computer identified Zdebski as someone who had sexual
relations with an incapacitated person not as someone who had been charged
with indecent exposure.
"This was a
perfect storm of events," Marko said. "He's having to pay legal fees in
Illinois and Michigan for something that was never his fault," Marko said.
Marko has filed a Federal lawsuit accusing
Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard Jr. Prosecutor Jessica Cooper of violating
Zdebski's constitutional rights. Marko and co-counsel Rachel Wisley are
asking U.S. District Judge Sean Cox to certify the case as a class action,
order county officials to fix the problem and compensate Zdebski and others
affected to be compensated for emotional distress.
Can it Happen to You?
Computer errors in county systems are not uncommon and
are resulting in lawsuits against county officials across the country. If
you believe you may be a victim of errant computer data in county computers
and would like to
speak to an attorney anonymously, you can present your case for free at