Dr. Ernest Panos is finally a free man. The 81-year-old orthodontist has been staring down long prison sentences for what seems to have been false accusations, reports the Chicago Tribune. Last month, we covered his first acquittal. Yesterday afternoon, he was cleared of the other girl’s accusations.
Obviously, getting accused of fondling 13-year-old and 15-year-old girls is going to cause some trouble in your professional life, especially when you own your own business. Thanks to a change in Illinois law, Dr. Panos had to have a chaperone oversee all of his work with patients after the initial allegation.
Even with the safeguards in place, he was accused of the second fondling while awaiting trial on the first charge. In the eyes of the public, he was guilty. His license was also completely suspended. He hasn’t been able to work since.
According to his attorneys, the apparently false allegations have cost him 80 to 90 percent of his business. One would imagine that even with his license being restored, the court of public opinion is still going to have residual effects on his livelihood.
So, if you have been falsely accused by a couple of teens, and one of their families had previously allegedly tried to extort money from you, what would you do?
How about suing them? Sure, they’re not rich. If they were, they wouldn’t have allegedly tried to extort money. Nonetheless, if you emerge victorious, you can seize their house, cars, or perhaps just garnish their wages.
One strong possibility is a defamation lawsuit. False accusations have cost Dr. Panos his business, his personal and professional reputation, and probably a ton in legal expenses. Proving damages should be easy.
As for the rest of the elements, he’d have to show that a false statement was made to a third party and that he was injured as a result. Sounds like a solid case, right?
Now, you’re probably thinking, “sue the children? That’s crazy talk.” Well, that’s true. Suing a couple of kids wouldn’t really be worth it. After all, a couple of Bieber posters and a Carly Rae Jepsen album probably wouldn’t compensate him for his injuries, (though it’s certainly a start).
But where there’s a will, there’s a law. You see, a while back, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that parents weren’t liable for the acts of their children. The legislature scoffed, and passed the Illinois Parental Responsibility Act. It makes parents liable for the harm caused by intentional acts committed by children older than 11 and younger than 19.