When a person is sexually assaulted, his or her life is often changed forever. While therapy and counseling may help, the emotional trauma of such an experience may never really go away. Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult, in many cases, to successfully prosecute a perpetrator of sexual assault in criminal court because the standard of proof is quite high. Proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect committed the crime can be nearly impossible when the case boils down to two conflicting stories about what happened. Some victims of sexual assault are able to secure justice to a certain degree in the form of a personal injury verdict or settlement, as a headline-making case from Georgia recently demonstrated.
Teen Raped by Security Guard
In 2012, a 14-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a 22-year-old man who worked as a security guard at a housing complex near Atlanta. The girl was at the complex for a friend’s birthday party. Following the incident, the man was arrested and charged with several criminal counts related to the assault, including rape, statutory rape, sexual battery, and molesting a child. He pleaded guilty to several of the charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison—a sentence that he is currently serving.
While the criminal proceedings were underway against the girl’s attacker, her family filed a civil lawsuit against the security company that employed the man. The lawsuit accused the company of negligence in training and performance and for failing to keep the teen safe while at the apartment complex. The suit sought damages for the victim’s emotional distress, including her pain and suffering. The apartment complex and its management company were originally named in the lawsuit as well, but they were ultimately dismissed as defendants.
A Possible Record Verdict
A judge in the State Court of Clayton County settled the issue of liability in the case, determining that the security company had, in fact, been negligent. A jury was assembled to decide on the amount of damages. The jurors collectively decided that the victim—who is now 20—had suffered tremendously and awarded her compensatory damages in the amount of $1 billion dollars. While it is not definitively the largest civil verdict in U.S. history, several legal experts expressed the belief that it is.
Those close to the case realize that the victim is not likely to see most of that money, as the security company is not worth anywhere near a billion dollars. The bigger point, however, is the message that the verdict sent. “We know they don’t have $1 billion,” said the family’s attorney. “But it’s what 12 people in the state of Georgia said a victim of rape is worth echoes louder. We already got our victory.”
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney for Help
Money itself cannot provide true justice for the victims of sexual assault, or any other physical crime, but it can help victims restore some sense of normalcy to their lives. If you have been a victim and would like to know more about seeking financial compensation, contact an experienced Connecticut personal injury attorney. Call 860-290-8690 for a free consultation at Woolf Law Firm, LLC today.