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Man forced to plead no contest so he could join family, lawsuit says

The Nigerian immigrant acquitted of charges in the 2008 death of a 2-year-old boy is expected to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against Clark County today because officials kept him from his family for five months after a jury found him not guilty.

After two years in jail and two jury trials, Victor Fakoya was acquitted Dec. 17, 2010, of murder and abuse charges in the death of 2-year-old Daniel Jaiyesimi. But after the verdict, county prosecutors refused to let him live with his family unless he admitted to similar accusations in a related Family Court child protection case.

After five months of telling his children he was going to work but was really leaving them to live in a hotel, Fakoya agreed to plead no contest to not calling 911 in a timely manner.

Lawyer Brent Bryson said, “I don’t want people to be confused about the nature of this lawsuit. This is not about the criminal prosecution. This is about the five months he was kept from his family after he was acquitted by a jury of his peers.”

Bryson said prosecutors relied on the same evidence in the Family Court case as they did in the criminal matter.

The lawsuit, which seeks $10 million in damages, said, “Members of CPS (Child Protective Services) repeatedly used coercive tactics to get Victor to admit he was guilty of causing the death of the 2-year-old or face the potential termination of his Constitutional Rights to parent his children.”

The lawsuit further said, “This ordeal has financially destroyed the Fakoya family and left emotional scars that will never fully heal.”

Bryson said, “It’s one of the saddest situations I’ve ever encountered.”

Fakoya is expected, with Bryson, to speak publicly at a news conference about the lawsuit today.

County spokesman Erik Pappa said the practice of the county is not to comment on pending lawsuits.

Authorities thought Daniel, whose family shared the Fakoya home, died as a result of child abuse. Fakoya was the last adult known to be with him.

But during two criminal trials, the first of which ended in a hung jury, medical expert testimony failed to narrow down what caused the boy’s death or prove that Fakoya caused an injury.

Daniel was sick for weeks before his death, and there was evidence to support five possible causes.

After his acquittal, Fakoya refused to admit to something he didn’t do in the Family Court case and spent every night for five months away from his wife and two daughters. He said he agreed to the no contest plea because “I have to put my family first.”

Fakoya’s delay in calling 911 in August 2008 might be because of his cultural upbringing in Nigeria, where no emergency phone system existed.

When Fakoya saw Daniel was unconscious, his first phone call was to the boy’s father. A minute later, he called his wife, who told him to call 911. He then immediately called 911.

Fakoya, who is now a U.S. citizen, said in Nigeria the first phone call for a sick child would always be to the parents.

After his acquittal, Fakoya’s defense lawyers said prosecutors were pursuing the Family Court case because they were “trying to save face” and couldn’t accept losing the criminal case.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

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