The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office decided no charges should be filed against a CSUN employee of the university’s Child and Family Studies Center Infant/Toddler School who was arrested in connection with misdemeanor battery.
In a hearing conducted April 10, the City Attorney’s office ruled that there was not enough information to proceed with the case against Wendy Elizabeth Nicola. There was insufficient evidence, hearing officer Ben Lovato said. The hearing determines whether criminal charges should be filed.
“I don’t believe the hearing officer believed a crime was committed,” Nicola’s attorney Jeffrey Vallens said.
Nicola was arrested in connection with rough treatment of a child on March 17 after a parent filed a report with campus police and ordered a citizen’s arrest.
“The allegations were false,” Nicola said in a recent interview. She referred all other questions to her lawyer.
Vallens said the hearing officer had three choices he could have made, Vallens said. He could recommend charges be filed, not be filed or require the subject to do a follow-up, he said.
The citizen’s arrest occurred because the incident was not committed in front of an officer, police spokesperson Christina Villalobos said. The police conducted an investigation and found enough evidence to arrest Nicola, she said.
Vallens said he believes his client was wrongly arrested.
Questions arose over the method and manner in which Nicola was arrested. Nicola’s arrest was done publicly with campus police walking Nicola in handcuffs in front of press cameras.
Police did take into consideration the best way to take her from the building, but were unable to take the best action because of the way the infant toddler center is set up, Villalobos said.
Nicola was on the premises, which was where the alleged crime was committed, during the investigation, and this is the reason she was arrested there, she said.
The university was not involved in the hearing but Nicola did receive support from co-workers and supervisors, Vallens said.
One of the supervisors wrote a report that supports the claim of the client’s innocence, he said.
According to Vallens, the CSUN police conducted an investigation and found the alleged crime to be a potential misdemeanor and not a felony. The case was forwarded to the city attorney’s office, which handles misdemeanor cases. The hearing, conducted by a former LAPD officer, resulted in Nicola being cleared.
Nicola earned a bachelor’s degree in child development at CSUN in 2005.
Nicola had a temporary appointment with the university which concluded at the end of March, university spokesperson John Chandler said. A temporary appointment is for certain positions at the university but not all, he said.
Victor Flores can be reached at email@example.com.