Timothy Dale Poole, a sex offender convicted in Florida on April 15, 2002, was sued by alleged victims after scoring a winning lottery ticket and collecting the earnings. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys Mark NeJame and Jason Recksiedler, seek damages for pain and suffering arising from being molested by Poole.
The lawsuit was filed in the Orange County Circuit Court in Orlando. It alleges damages due to physical pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. Plaintiffs, who are brothers, claim the assaults occurred in 1996 and continued over the course of one year. There is no record of a criminal conviction in connection with these allegations.
In his original charges, Poole was accused of sexual battery of another nine-year-old boy in 1999. Police arrested Poole in 2001 after a two-year manhunt that finally located him in New York. Although Poole insisted that the allegations were false, he plead guilty to the charges and the court sentenced him to time served and probation. Poole’s probation was revoked when he failed to show up for a counseling appointment in 2003.
Poole purchased the winning Super Millions scratch-off ticket for $20.00 in early December while visiting a retail outlet in the Mount Dora region, near Orlando. The Florida Lottery announced his winning ticket on December 9 and Poole accepted a lump sum of $2.2 million.
After the sex offender won the Florida lottery and before he was sued, controversy stirred on whether a convicted felon should be able to keep such an immense fortune. However, there are no laws that prevent him from playing or winning the lottery.
In 2010, the Legislature overturned the statute of limitation for criminal and civil actions when victims faced sexual assault at age 16 or younger. This means that victims who suffered sexual abuse as minors can sue their assailants anytime after alleged events. It normally does not occur due to the fact most offenders have limited assets.
Victims can sue assailants even if criminal charges are pressed and the offender is sentenced. Criminal and civil court are separate forums with different purposes and standards of proof. The primary function of a civil lawsuit is to seek compensation for injury and damages.
Attorneys for plaintiff argue that while Poole paid his dues to society, he has not compensated these two victims for the long-term pain and suffering they endured when he was abusing them. The timing and intentions regarding this lawsuit are questioned due to its proximity to the lottery win.
Poole works as a driver and dispatcher for Triangle Cab, a Mount Dora company owned by his mother. He is staying in Mineral Wells, W.Va., according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Registered sex offenders are required to keep the department notified of their location even when they leave the state.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys moved the Florida circuit court to have the lottery winnings of the sex offender frozen until the suit settles. There is concern that he will squander the proceeds or hide them in order to avoid paying damages. As of this time, Poole has not responded to the lawsuit or allegations.
By Jocelyn Mackie
Photo Courtesy of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida