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Judge orders former social worker to pay councilwoman $3 million in defamation lawsuit

Judge orders former social worker to pay councilwoman $3 million in defamation lawsuit
Judge orders former social worker to pay councilwoman $3 million in defamation lawsuit 02:47

A district judge has ordered former Arapahoe County Human Services caseworker Robin Niceta to pay $3 million to Aurora City Councilwoman Danielle Jurinsky after Jurinsky sued Niceta for slander, libel and outrageous conduct. Jurinsky's legal action said Niceta slandered her by allegedly filing a false report accusing Jurinsky of abusing her infant son.


"In my lifetime I will not see $3 million from Robin Niceta," said Jurinsky, who said she was not concerned about the monetary award but wanted "to hold Robin accountable for her actions against me."

In 2022, Jurinsky appeared on a radio talk show and called then-Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson "trash." At the time, Wilson and Niceta were intimate partners.

The next day, someone made an anonymous phone call to the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services Division of Child and Adult Protective Services- where Niceta worked- claiming they had personally observed Jurinsky sexually abuse her nearly three-year-old son. A full-scale investigation was launched.

Jurinsky said she was wracked with fear during the two-week investigation, "I could lose my son, they could come take my son away any time they want."

Authorities ultimately determined the accusations were unfounded and that Niceta had made the call. Niceta was charged with filing a false report and has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Jurinsky filed a defamation lawsuit against Niceta, who failed to appear for any of the court dates, leading Arapahoe County Judge Elizabeth Beebe Volz to enter a default judgment against Niceta. In a written decision last month, Volz ruled Jurinsky suffered harm to her reputation, humiliation and emotional distress. The judge wrote that Niceta's conduct "was willful and wanton and done with actual malice. Further, the Court finds that the conduct was especially egregious since it was done by a person tasked with protecting children and knew full well that her false report would result in an investigation and potential separation of a young vulnerable child and a parent, with unknown potential harm to that child." 

CBS News Colorado investigator Brian Maass interviews Danielle Jurinsky.  CBS

Volz awarded Jurinsky $1.5 million in actual damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages. 

"This award is made, in part, 'to send a message that this kind of conduct cannot and should not be tolerated by anybody,'" wrote Volz.

"This is not a debt Robin will pay off in her lifetime," reiterated Jurinsky. "It won't happen and I'm well aware of that." 

She said the order was important though as it continues to hold Niceta "accountable for her actions against me," said Jurinsky.

Jurinsky said while she and her lawyer are attempting to garnish Niceta's wages and collect the debt, she is more focused on Niceta's pending trial, scheduled for May.

"I hope for the maximum six years she is facing. I hope she is sitting behind bars for all six of those years and I have nothing to garnish- nothing. I want her in a prison cell for six years," said Jurinsky. 

CBS News Colorado attempted to reach Niceta via email but did not receive a response. A call and email to Niceta's criminal defense attorney did not lead to a response. Jurinsky said she believes Niceta is now living in New Mexico.

Niceta is facing other legal action stemming from her time with Arapahoe County Human Services and Jurinsky said Niceta messed with the wrong elected official. 

"Our children are off the table. I hope to live rent-free in Robin Niceta's head for the rest of her life," said Jurinsky.

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