The suit was filed July 19 in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.
A judge hadn’t been assigned to the case at press time.
James Harris contends that Paige forced him to perform oral sex inside Paige’s cruiser in a secluded area of Fairmount Park in 2007.
In June, a federal jury awarded Harris $165,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
Harris, 34, also is seeking about $500,000 from Paige for his legal fees and costs.
But Paige, 45, has requested a new trial, or a dismissal of the jury verdict.
In court testimony, Paige denied having a sexual encounter with Harris — consensual or otherwise.
But Paige admitted allowing Harris to enter his police cruiser for “mentoring,” because Harris appeared to be confused about his sexual orientation, Paige testified.
Paige said he stressed the importance of male-female relationships by driving Harris through the park and showing him various spots where Paige had consensual sex with women while off-duty.
Later, the officer theorized, Harris found one of Paige’s used condoms in the park, and used DNA from the condom to link Paige to an alleged sexual assault.
A jury apparently rejected that theory when handing down a monetary judgment for Harris.
State law prevents local agencies from indemnifying employees who commit an act of willful misconduct.
But according to Paige’s lawsuit, the jury didn’t find him liable for willful misconduct — though it found him liable for intentionally causing emotional distress to Harris.
“A jury verdict that a police officer committed an intentional tort by itself is insufficient to establish willful misconduct,” states Paige’s lawsuit.
The fact that Harris was awarded punitive damages doesn’t disqualify Paige from indemnification, according to the suit.
Additionally, the city’s collective-bargaining agreement with the police union requires that Paige be indemnified, according to the suit.
Paige is seeking an injunction, compelling the city to “fulfill its statutory obligation” and indemnify him.
Mark McDonald, a spokesperson for Mayor Nutter, had no comment on Paige’s request for indemnification.
But according to court papers, the city posits that Paige isn’t entitled to indemnification because his alleged sexual encounter with Harris was outside the scope of his official duties.
Paige was dismissed from the police force shortly after the Harris incident.
In 2008, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Anthony J. DeFino dismissed all criminal charges against Paige, questioning the credibility of Harris.
Paige returned to the police force in April 2009 after an independent arbitrator reduced his discipline from dismissal to a 30-day suspension.
Brian M. Puricelli, an attorney for Paige, had no comment for this story.
Brian F. Humble, an attorney for Harris, said the city should indemnify Paige.
“It is the city’s obligation to indemnify [Paige] not only on a legal level, but a moral one as well,” Humble told PGN. “It’s interesting that the city’s hands are tied when it comes to giving an [alleged] predator his job back, but not when it comes to compensating his victims.”
Humble said the city can cut its losses if it promptly pays Harris’ monetary judgment.
He said the legal fees can be worked out at a later date.
Otherwise, the litigation may advance to the appellate courts, which would only increase costs, Humble noted.
Humble said he’s confident the jury verdict will withstand any appeal that might be filed by Paige.
According to court papers, Paige contends Harris would be entitled to about $34,000 from Paige in legal fees at this stage of the litigation.
If Paige succeeds in vacating the jury verdict, Harris wouldn’t be entitled to any money from Paige for his legal fees.
U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly hasn’t yet ruled on Paige’s request for a new trial or a dismissal of the jury verdict.
If Kelly denies the request, Paige can appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.