Raeann Warner of Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A., has filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of the mother of a 13-year-old girl who was raped while volunteering at Cemetery House Haunted House in Laurel, Delaware. The nineteen-year-old assailant was also a volunteer at the site. The lawsuit names the perpetrator, along with the company that owns the haunted house. The lawsuit alleges negligence by the company.
The incident happened in October 2016 inside the haunted attraction, which is described as the longest continuously running haunted house on the Eastern Shore. Cemetery House reopened for the 2017 Halloween season this past Friday, October 13. The attraction claims to “frighten thousands of victims each year,” and is open annually during the last three weekends in October.
According to the Delaware Office of the Attorney General, the perpetrator pled guilty to the charges of fourth degree rape, and unlawful sexual conduct second degree. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison and will be required to register as a Tier II sex offender.
The victims of sexual abuse suffer long after the initial attack. As such, the law allows victims to file lawsuits in civil court against their perpetrators. This is separate from criminal prosecution. The damages for a sexual assault or sexual abuse in a civil trial will be based on the physical and emotional harm the victim suffered, and will continue to suffer, as a result of the crime. Because these crimes are so heinous, a jury will often award victims very high damages to be paid by the perpetrator and any other responsible party.
Sometimes other responsible parties can be held liable along with the actual perpetrator of the crime. For example, if the assault occurred at a business, a school, or an institution, that entity may be included in the lawsuit. With regard to that entity, the lawsuit would typically be based on a negligent supervision claim, or failure to provide proper security.
A civil case is generally much easier to win than a criminal prosecution because the standard of proof is lower. The victim only needs to show that there is a “preponderance of the evidence.” So, even if there was no criminal prosecution, and even if the defendant was not convicted, the victim can still prevail.
If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, we understand the fears and emotions you are dealing with, and we can offer personal, compassionate assistance for your case. To arrange a free consultation with an experienced Delaware sexual abuse lawyer, call Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. today at 302-656-5445 or contact us online. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, we represent individuals and families throughout the state, including those in Dover, Delaware.