15 Year-Old Teen Rape Victim Find $3.5 Million In Damages Capped At $350,000 By Ohio Judge Citing Ohio Law
A recent ruling on damages has some in disbelief after an Ohio court has upheld a law that caps non-economic losses at $350,000. The damages in question are those awarded in a sexual assault case where a Pastor was found guilty of raping the then 15 year-old girl.
The jury hearing the sexual assault case not only found the Pastor guilty, but also found the Grace Brethren Church negligent and awarded the now 22 year-old woman $3.5 million for damages in 2008. To the surprise of many, the award was capped, by an Ohio judge, at $350,000 because it was for pain and suffering and not economic losses. The woman is now seeking an appeal to receive the full amount originally awarded to her in 2008.
Just this week, the Ohio Supreme Court was asked to declare damage caps unconstitutional when related to child sex-abuse victims. The supporters of the new request state that a low monetary cap does not allow enough compensation for the mental trauma associated with rape and sexual misconduct that can last a lifetime. According to the woman’s lawyers, the woman has trouble being alone and has difficulty with relationships with men. The lawsuit states she needs additional treatment for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol abuse.
The girl was fifteen years old when her pastor raped her twice during a counseling session in 2008 at the Delaware Grace Brethren Church. According to news reports, church officials knew that the pastor had been accused of sexual misconduct with children but did not document or investigate the accusations. The victim allegedly continues to suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and mild depression.
[dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/12/15/ohio-supreme-court-damage-caps.html, January 2016 ]
A lawyer representing the woman, John K. Fitch, told The Columbus Dispatch, “The state has no legitimate interest … in protecting those who would rape a child or cover up for a predator,” he said.
In 2005 the tort-reform law passed which placed a cap on damages and compensation for rape victims. The Ohio Supreme Court deemed the cap constitutional in 2007. Mr. Fitch who filed the appeal states that such a large cap on compensation neglects to account for the emotional damages that rape victims often suffer. The goal of the non-economic damages cap was to protect insurers and businesses from accruing as much monetary loss through lawsuits.
In addition to the added compensation sought by the woman, her lawyer stated at the very least she should receive the currently allowed max amount for pain-and-suffering damages of $350,00 for each time she was sexual assaulted.