On January 22, 2001 an Anchorage, Alaska superior court jury awarded nearly $1.4 million to five women in a civil action arising from their being sexually assaulted by a guard at an Anchorage halfway house called the Cordova Center.
J.C. Lewis Jr. admitted coercing the women to have non-consensual sex with him during his employment as a guard at the center. He was ordered to pay the women over $88,000 in actual damages and $175,000 in punitive damages. Lewis' sexual misconduct at the center also netted him 22 years in prison in a separate criminal action.
Allvest Inc., a subsidiary of Cornell Corrections Inc., a private prison company based in Houston, TX, which owns the center, was found negligent in its hiring, screening, training, and supervising of Lewis. The jury ordered Allvest to pay the women $80,000 in actual damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
Bill Cook, an attorney for the women, said there was available evidence of Lewis' past misconduct, but Allvest did not check Lewis' past before hiring him.
The state of Alaska was also a defendant in the case. It settled out of court for $45,000 in December of 2000.
After the verdict which brought the women a total of $1,388,000 in winnings, Les Syren, another attorney for the women, commented that: "It's a happy day for them to be vindicated and to have somebody say we believe you. It did happen."
Source: Anchorage Daily News
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