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Karl Fields testifies in Judge Don Poole's courtroom in Chattanooga in this Oct. 24, 2014, file photo.
"You can see how [Defendant Fields] botched [the rape investigation] from the beginning. He had other designs for her. Maybe to keep her as someone he could prey on, it did not need to be a fast and efficient investigation."

Since a rape victim first accused former Chattanooga Detective Karl Fields of harassing her last September, the case has sparked intense media scrutiny and harsh words from attorneys on both sides.

Fields' attorney accused the woman of deleting text messages that would have proven the relationship was consensual. The woman's attorney accused Fields of stalking.

"I do not believe the text messages were cherry-picked. I do believe the texts will show that Karl Fields was abusing his position with the Chattanooga Police Department. He was stalking [the woman]."

The woman, whose name is being withheld in accordance with the Times Free Press policy on sexual assault victims, is suing the city of Chattanooga, police Chief Fred Fletcher and Fields in a federal civil rights suit. The suit claims the city was negligent and inflicted emotional distress by allowing Fields to commit assault and battery.

According to a motion filed by the city in federal court Tuesday, the public war of words amounts to a trial by media. The city wants the commentary stopped.

"Counsel for both [the woman] and Defendant Fields intend to try this case in the press, which will have the inevitable consequence of making it difficult to seat a fair and unbiased jury," city attorneys wrote in a motion asking for a special order stopping public commentary on the widely publicized case.

Fields' attorney, Jerry Tidwell, said he'll agree to a reasonable order barring further comment.

"We can probably tone down the rhetoric a little bit," Tidwell said.

In their motion, city attorneys cited as evidence two Times Free Press articles in which Tidwell defended his client and one in which the woman's attorney, McCracken Poston, condemned Fields' actions.

"Apparently TBI noted to internal affairs that there are huge gaps between text messages provided by [this woman]. It appears she cherry-picked."

Attorneys also included as evidence a written statement that Tidwell distributed after Fields' disciplinary hearing in early April. In that statement, Tidwell suggests not only that the woman didn't turn over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation all text messages exchanged with Fields, but that she could have easily fabricated text messages.

Poston said he believes he was acting within his rights to respond to Tidwell's comments.

"We were merely responding to a very self-serving press release that was not exactly kosher with the facts," Poston said.

Fields has since been fired from CPD and could lose his Peace Officer Certification, meaning he won't be able to work as a police officer in the state. TBI is looking into his case, and a special prosecutor will decide whether to seek an indictment. Meanwhile, the woman's rape case is progressing through court.

A judge will ultimately rule whether to order a ban on further comments.

Attorneys have until March 29 to file a response in opposition to the order, which Tidwell says will likely be granted in some capacity.

Contact staff writer Claire Wiseman at cwiseman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow her on Twitter @clairelwiseman.

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