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Acquitted of child abuse, Bakersfield father files civil rights complaint against city

Jesus Flores, 21, contemplates a question asked of him during a Monday afternoon, Oct. 16, 2017, press conference in downtown Bakersfield, Calif. He was acquitted of child abuse and has now filed a civil rights complaint against the city. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

A Bakersfield man who spent two years in jail before being acquitted of child abuse filed a legal claim against the city of Bakersfield on Monday, seeking money for alleged violations of his civil rights.

Attorneys representing Jesus Flores, 21, say the Bakersfield Police Department acted in bad faith, misrepresenting evidence in their report.

Flores' infant son was rushed to Valley Children's Hospital in May 2015 after losing consciousness. Police interviewed Flores while his son was being treated and concluded that he shook the baby, causing the medical problems.

An attorney for the city of Bakersfield on Monday said she had not yet been served and would reserve her comments for after she had a chance to read the complaint.

Flores was defended in court by Bakersfield attorney David Faulkner, but Monday's complaint was filed by Los Angeles-based attorney Thomas Seabaugh.

Seabaugh categorized Flores' case as part of a widespread trend wherein innocent parents are the victims of "faulty science" regarding "shaken baby syndrome."

"What the controversy is about is whether a police officer or a doctor in an emergency room can take a look at certain kinds of injuries or symptoms and work backwards from that and say that a child was definitely abused at such and such a place and such a such a time," he said.

Seabaugh believes many innocent parents have spent long periods in jail based on very limited evidence.

Flores was acquitted in June, but his thoughts remain focused on reuniting with his son.

"I saw him when he was an infant," he said. "I haven't seen him since."

The city will have a short period of time in which to respond to the complaint. If they reject it and a settlement cannot be reached, Seabaugh plans to put the matter before a jury in federal court.

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