Wadith “Paul” and Stacey “Nikki” Nader had their lives turned upside down in 2015.
That year, Paul Nader was arrested, charged with seven counts of child pornography and held in the Sarpy County Jail for almost a month. His arrest was reported on TV and online, along with his booking photo. Reporters talked to his neighbors about how he interacted with his kids.
Then, seven months after the arrest, the charges were dismissed.
Now the Naders have filed a federal lawsuit against Papillion, Sarpy County, Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov and several Papillion police detectives, citing the anguish and embarrassment of the episode.
The City of Papillion declined to comment when contacted last week. The Naders’ attorneys also declined to discuss the lawsuit, which was filed last week.
Polikov said Wednesday that just because his office couldn’t prove the allegations without a reasonable doubt doesn’t mean there wasn’t adequate evidence to prompt the investigation of Nader.
“The facts will show that there was certainly probable cause for the arrest and prosecution,” he said. But defendants are afforded protections, he said, and the process ended in Nader’s favor.
The case began in December 2014 when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children passed a tip to the Nebraska State Patrol that child pornography had been transmitted over a Microsoft online account owned by Paul Nader, who was 41 at the time. The Papillion Police Department subpoenaed the Naders’ Internet records and got a warrant to search their home.
According to the search warrant, Microsoft sends tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children when images that could be child porn are uploaded to the Microsoft SkyDrive, now named OneDrive. The national center received two of these tips from Microsoft in December 2014. Those tips indicated that seven pornographic images had been uploaded using Nader’s email address.
Papillion Police Detective Bryan Svajgl, who is named in the lawsuit, examined the images and determined that they were child porn. The search warrant includes descriptions of each of the images.
On March 17, 2015, Papillion police searched the Nader home and questioned Paul Nader. During the search they found chemicals and books on terrorism. Nader said the chemicals were used to polish jewelry. According to the lawsuit, he spent more than 15 years in the Air Force, where he worked in counterintelligence. At the time of the search he was getting his doctorate in strategic security, the suit says, which he said accounted for the books. But police called in a bomb squad before confirming that the chemicals were legal.
Papillion police found none of the images identified by the tips during their search, according to the lawsuit. Nader was arrested based “solely” on the tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the couple’s suit says. He was charged with six counts of possession of child pornography. The charges later were amended to seven counts, then later changed to three counts.
Nader was held in the Sarpy County Jail from March 17 to April 13.
The Naders’ children were placed with a relative. And after Nader posted bail and left jail, he was denied contact with his children for 79 days.
Three days after the arrest, Nikki Nader, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, received word that she was being assigned to a new post in Spain. But after her husband’s arrest, she was unable to take the assignment, according to the couple’s complaint. She believes she has since been passed over for Air Force promotions, the court documents allege.
After searches of the Naders’ computer equipment by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the State Patrol, charges were dismissed on Oct. 14, 2015.
The family has since moved from Papillion to New Jersey.
Police seized computers, tablets, cellphones, thumb drives and hard drives, among other items, from the Naders. The seized items included equipment on which Nader had stored his thesis and research, which he spent four years working on. That work was “irreplaceable,” according to a motion he filed in Sarpy County District Court to have his items returned. Much of this property was destroyed, the documents indicate. It is not clear if Paul Nader got his thesis work back.
The case has marred the Naders’ personal and professional lives, the court documents say. The complaint says the Papillion Police Department and Sarpy County Attorney’s Office don’t provide adequate training on when to make an arrest.
The Naders are seeking a jury trial. The amount they’re seeking in damages hasn’t been discussed yet, their attorney said last week.