There was a lot of media coverage on Edward Meiggs after his arrest in 2015. Much of that coverage painted him in a bad light. The Meiggs family alleges that the Evansville Police Department and Vanderburgh Prosecutors were biased in their investigation.
Dozens of clients and friends called the Meiggs family after the arrest and indicated that they reached out to Detective Brian Turpin. Turpin was the officer who questioned and arrested Meiggs. Turpin had released a public statement asking anyone with information to call him. Many people advocating for Meiggs called Turpin and what they received in response horrified them. Some of Turpin’s alleged responses include, “You just weren’t the chosen one,” or, “It would have only been a matter of time,” and then he dismissed Meiggs’ advocates.
During the investigation, Meiggs’ oldest daughter received multiple unwelcomed phone calls from Turpin. Because she helped Meiggs with his business, she was classified as staff worthy of questioning. “I don’t know if he’s just that bad of a detective or he was trying to bait me, but he should have known better than to call Edward’s own daughter.” Meiggs’ daughter had asked Turpin not to call again. He called her almost every day for two weeks. “The detective never called Mom who also helped Dad’s business. That’s why I think he didn’t know I’m Edward’s daughter.”
Turpin got a hold of other former staff. Shortly after Turpin managed to contact former staff, so did news outlets. Most of Meiggs’ business staff refused to comment. One person, however, is alleged to have lied about business practice. Karen Warner of Evansville, Indiana went on television and said Meiggs used inappropriate language while at work. She said he tasked her with inappropriate things while at work. Warner served for a short time at Meiggs’ family business. According to Meiggs and his family, Warner’s statements are false.
Meiggs’ said in response:
Karen's issue was that she was let go twice and she had a problem with that. We believed in giving people second chances. Though she couldn’t uphold her obligation to her schedule and clients complained about her cleanliness and bedside manner, we gave her a second chance. That was a mistake. The same issues came up and we couldn’t do anymore for her at that point. What I don’t get is that she said she was afraid to work for me but came to me after being let go asking for a second chance. Who does that?
Warner said she returned to work for Meiggs because she was worried about a fellow co-worker. But, the family said Warner was dishonest. Aside from family, there weren’t other staff at the time she was seeking re-employment. Meiggs’ family said she was fired both times.
Meiggs is known to give second chances. After letting one employee go in 2014, she got engaged and he re-offered her the position because she was getting married and wanted the extra income for wedding planning. It was something Meiggs and his family extended as a gesture of good will.
Warner could face a libel or slander civil lawsuit by the family should they choose to pursue her for damages. If Warner was terminated on both occasions, that could motivate her to commit malice against Meiggs and his place of business. The requirements to convict someone for libel in Indiana includes the defendant having made an unprivileged false statement of fact with that statement causing material harm and either acted negligently or with actual malice against the plaintiff.
Other laws, such as the difference between slander and libel, since Warner was filmed, may go into account. There’s also a statute of limitations on written defamatory statements made in the State of Indiana. Warner’s statements were made over two years ago. However, the footage of Warner’s alleged defamatory statements remains in circulation.
Warner is not the only person who allegedly lied to the media. The trial's prosecuting attorney, Javier Lugo, told the The Courier Press post-trial that Meiggs' DNA was on retained evidence. That is provably untrue based on both the Appellant's and Appellee's briefs, which cite the DNA reports as evidence (and cite that none of Meiggs' DNA was found or confirmed). Lugo's false defamation of Meiggs was made less than two years ago. As a citizen, Lugo is subject to the same sort of laws as everyone else. Lugo can be sued for libel and slander without regard to any statute of limitations.
A lot of things said about Meiggs were misrepresented in print, media and film. Meiggs was referred to as a “masseuse” as in “massage therapist” when his charges were made public. He is not a massage therapist and never represented himself as one in any of his advertisements. His Service Agreement that every client signed indicates that he is not a massage therapist.
SIDE NOTE: “Masseuse” is actually the feminine form of the word. 14News erroneously used “Masseuse” in their titles when headlining and datelining Meiggs’ charges. Also note that masseuse, masseur and massage therapist offer the impression that a person is licensed. Until spring/summer of 2017, massage therapy was not regulated under license requirements in the State of Indiana. While Meiggs’ services never implemented massage therapy (but acupressure), it’s a curious coincidence that the bill’s development and passing was in proximity with Meiggs’ charges and conviction.
Media has also stated that Meiggs claimed to be a medical doctor, which is provably untrue. There’s no such thing as a “PHD license”, which is what 14News claimed they searched for concerning Meiggs’ business and credentials. There have also been questions about the legitimacy of Meiggs’ educational background.
Alternative medicinal practitioners and naturopathic doctors are not required to carry licensure in the State of Indiana. While there currently exists an Indiana House Bill and Senate Bill on the matter (where each bill in the House and Senate die upon being tabled on an annual basis), it is clear that Meiggs was not performing an illegal service. Meiggs never claimed to be a massage therapist, a medical doctor, or licensed (besides being licensed as a nurse, which he was until 2017 after his wrongful conviction).
This all matters because Edward Meiggs was wrongfully convicted of a crime evidence proves he did not commit. Public opinion plays a pivotal role in the future of all people, notably people charged with crimes. Meiggs and his entire family were advised to keep quiet as to not draw unwanted attention to themselves. However, considering Meiggs is incarcerated and Indiana Court of Appeals just decided in the conviction’s favor, it’s about time the victims without a voice stand up. It’s time to do something about wrongful convictions and the lives those convictions ruin.