EXCLUSIVE | Man files federal lawsuit against City of Tulsa over alleged wrongful rape arrest

TULSA, Okla. — In a FOX23 Exclusive Investigation, a man has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Tulsa. The lawsuit alleges Timothy Hankins was wrongly arrested, charged and prosecuted for rape.

FOX23′s Crime and Safety Reporter Abigail Dye has been investigating the case over the last couple of weeks.

Hankins is a Tulsa native who built a career in the IT industry. The lawsuit claims the rape charged ruined his life and reputation. A jury found him not guilty, and since his acquittal, Hankins told FOX23 he is looking for justice.

The lawsuit also names Tulsa Police Department’s (TPD) Special Victim’s Unit Lt. Darin Ehrenrich. It alleges they violated Hankins’ constitutional rights.

“We filed it because there was an incredible injustice that happened to Tim Hankins whe he was charged with the crimes he was charged with,” explained Dan Smolen, Hankin’s attorney.

Smolen claimed the woman who accused Hankins of rape influenced the investigation because she is a prosecutor in the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office.

“I think that they were more aggressive in trying to put together a case because of who [Hankin’s accuser] was,” Smolen said. “I think what allowed the process to move forward is the overall practices of the Tulsa Police Department with their requirement, or lack of requirement, to put exculpatory evidence into the probable cause affidavits.”

Court records revealed Tulsa Police arrested Hankins in 2020 and charged him with first degree rape. A probable cause affidavit in the case, written by Lt. Erenrich, cites video footage, witness interviews and a rape exam as evidence to make an arrest.

“There was never any evidence at all that Mr. Hankins had committed a crime,” Smolen told FOX23.

The federal lawsuit claims Hankins’ reputation was ruined and he was fired from his tech job. The lawsuit also claims the charges made him “unemployable.”

“The encounter has been devastating to Mr. Hankins, from an emotional standpoint, from his finances, work, his career,” he said. “When you take someone’s life away from them, like they took Tim Hankins’ life away from him, there needs to be repercussions. We need to hold the system accountable.”

The case was tried in Tulsa County by Payne County prosecutors to avoid any conflict of interest.

FOX23 called the Payne County District Attorney for comment on the story. She returned the call and said she would get back with a response, but she never did. FOX23 also reached out to Tulsa Police for a comment. Tulsa Police has not responded.

“It never should have happened, but it was allowed to go forward,” Smolen said. “And it devastated Mr. Hankin’s life.”

Smolen said he is seeking monetary damages to make up for Hankins’ financial losses.

FOX23 also reached out to Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler for comment. A spokesperson for his office provided the following statement:

“Our office recused from the case from the very beginning. The Oklahoma Attorney General appointed a separate prosecutor’s office to review and make filing decisions it deemed appropriate. At this point, this is a private, civil matter and should be treated as such.”

The City of Tulsa decided to represent Lt. Erhenrich in his defense. The city has three weeks to respond to the case.

This is a developing story.