A 10-year-old girl attended a theater school on a daily basis after her elementary school day ended. One day she was alone in the locker room at the theater company after a rehearsal when a 28-year-old man, who had just had one of his scripts turned down by the theater company, cornered her in the locker room, took her to a secluded large closet and brutally raped her, causing severe psychological damage.
The rapist was found, pled guilty to avoid a life sentence, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The girl, who was 12 by the time the civil case was litigated, had become unmanageable by her single mother and was moved around from one relative’s home to another.
The theater company claimed that it did not bear any responsibility for the rape because the perpetrator was not one of its employees; it had no reason to believe that the rapist would have a script turned down and then walk across the street to another part of the theater company and rape a student; that even if they had a guard present at the building where the rape occurred, the guard would not have stopped the rapist, who was a normally dressed, normal looking young man from entering; that although the little girl was clearly injured as a result of the rape, her more significant problems stemmed from the fact that her mother was erratic, left the girl alone for long periods of time and plaintiff was acting out as an adolescent, not because of the rape but because of the lack of a good upbringing and boundary setting by the mother. Finally, the defense claimed that the mother’s alimony payments had run out around the time of this incident and she was using this case to support herself without having to go back to work.
John Winer was an associate in another law firm when this case was litigated; however, he performed most of the discovery on the case including going to San Quentin Prison to take the deposition of the rapist. This deposition proved critical because the rapist testified that he would not have entered the building where he raped the girl if he knew a guard was present and he was familiar with the building and knew that the guard took a break without a replacement from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Thus, he chose that time to enter the building.
The law firm further had the plaintiff psychologically tested and the testing revealed symptoms of distress far more consistent with a rape than with poor parenting.
After the rapist’s deposition, the case settled against the theater company for $750,000 and a settlement of $2,000,000 was obtained against the rapist who stipulated to a $2,000,000 judgment.
RESULT: Settlement on behalf of plaintiff of $2,750,000