GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Lee Finlayson, a captain with the Grand Rapids fire department, was arrested and locked up for two weeks after his girlfriend filed criminal charges against him including rape.
The charges were later dropped after evidence that the text messages used as evidence against him were fake.
Finlayson said he lost two weeks of his life and spent $10,000 trying to prove his innocence.
As firefighters go, Captain Finlayson is considered one of the best. He was voted the 2011 Grand Rapids firefighter of the year.
In September however, he was arrested stemming from a warrant out of Pennsylvania.
“You are given absolutely zero information,” said Finlayson. “Nobody will talk to you.”
He was looking at a total of six felony charges including rape and indecent assault. The allegations coming from an ex-girlfriend who claimed to have incriminating text messages in which Finlayson admitted to the rape.
He said the evidence was fake, “Not a text message, a picture of a text message, who knows from where.”
Finlayson said he had evidence of his own. Five voice-mail messages that were left on his phone days after the alleged rape.
But he said he would have to wait to show his evidence and attempt to clear his name, kept in jail awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.
“I am nothing but one more individual wearing green,” said Finlayson. “Walking through the jail for two weeks.”
Even though Finlayson was innocent he was starting to worry he may be convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.
He said it all started when he gave his accuser a loan for $3,000 in September. Finlayson said after she got the money she filed a personal protection order against him then went to police with a fake text message conversation claiming rape, from there a warrant was issued for his arrest.
“Truly this was wrong. There was no investigation done,” he said.
While Finlayson was in route to court in Pennsylvania the woman dropped the charges against him. It may have ended his legal battle but Finlayson is doubtful the damage will ever be fully repaired.
“I will not recover,” he said. “Google my name today.”
His record is clean, but he said he was convicted in the court of public opinion. He’s concerned how easily this could happen to someone else.
“And by someone who has nothing to do with you. It can all be taken away and no one will care. You will just drop into the system,” he said.
As for his girlfriend who filed charges, so far Finlayson said she hasn’t been charged with any crime.
He also said that he has filed a lawsuit against her in Pennsylvania.