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Quid pro quo and more alleged in EPD lawsuit

Local woman files civil lawsuit against Estherville Police Department, police chief, former officer and credit union with counts of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Civil Extortion, Negligent Supervision and Regulation, Violation of U.S. Code relating to right to privacy and equal protection.

By Amy H. Peterson & David Swartz - | Apr 13, 2021

Victoria Abrahamson of Estherville filed a civil lawsuit Friday, April 9 in Emmet County District Court alleging that former Estherville police officer Ben Scheevel told her he would release her impounded car in exchange for sexual favors from her.

The complaint alleges that two years ago, April 10, 2019, Scheevel and Mike Webber, an employee of Employees Credit Union in Estherville, were acting as agents of the credit union when the men repossessed Abrahamson’s car at the direction of the credit union. The next day, Abrahamson states in her complaint that Scheevel started to contact her through social media messages and learned Abrahamson was a single mother and nursing student who couldn’t pay the $1,500 needed to get her car back. Allegedly, messages in the possession of Abrahamson’s attorneys say Scheevel offered his help to regain possession of the car if Abrahamson provided sexual favors. Abrahamson repeatedly refused.

The complaint states the messages continued from April 11-April 15, 2019 in the course of Scheevel’s duty as an Estherville police officer and agent of Employees Credit Union.

The defendants in the case, Ben Scheevel, Brent Shatto, Mike Webber, the Estherville Police Department, the city of Estherville and Employees Credit Union, have 30 days to provide an Answer to Abrahamson’s petition at law and demand for a jury trial.

The complaint states Officer Scheevel, among other messages, said in instant message to the Plaintiff that she was “the hottest-looking one we’ve ever repoed a car from.” In continuing messages, Scheevel reiterated his offer to help Abrahamson regain her car if she provided Scheevel and Webber sexual favors, specifically sending illicit photographs and performing specific acts. The complaint states that despite Abrahamson’s repeated refusals by return message, that Scheevel subtly threatened to use his power as an EPD officer to cause “trouble” for the Plaintiff if she did not provide suggestive pictures of herself to Scheevel and Webber. The complaint states Scheevel also mentioned the father of Abrahamson’s child, stating that though he hasn’t been in trouble with Estherville Police for a while that he had his suspicions, intimating that trouble could start for the father of her child if Abrahamson did not acquiesce.

April 12, 2019, the complaint states Abrahamson’s mother, Kylie, reported Scheevel’s actions to Estherville Police Chief Brent Shatto, providing the illicit messages Scheevel allegedly sent to Abrahamson on social media. The complaint states Chief Shatto told Abrahamson those messages did not rise to the level in which he could take action against Scheevel.

“That’s not something I can take his badge for,” Chief Shatto allegedly told Kylie Abrahamson.

Chief Shatto said he could not comment on the lawsuit, and most attorneys advise their clients to not discuss their case publicly.

The counts in the complaint include Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Civil Extortion, Negligent Supervision and Regulation, Violation of U.S. Code relating to right to privacy and equal protection.

Abrahamson’s attorneys are Christopher and Michael Sandy of Sandy Law Firm in Spirit Lake, and Thor Klinker of Primghar.