A Riverside Superior Court jury awarded a woman $2.28 billion on Tuesday for sexual abuse she endured for years by her stepfather, her attorney announced.
The 39-year-old Riverside woman, known in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, sued her stepfather, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and her mother, who she said had knew about the sexual abuse but did nothing. defended her, according to a press release from law firm Gary Dordick.
The jury awarded the woman $836 million in punitive damages and $1.44 billion in punitive damages.
The church denies wrongdoing but partially settled the lawsuit for $1 million in December and the woman’s mother settled for $200,000 in February, according to news reports.
The stepfather admitted sexual abuse and rape in sworn testimony but did not appear at trial.
Doe was assaulted by her stepfather from the age of 5 until she was 14; it ended when he was arrested and convicted of a felony of lewd conduct against a minor. The abuse occurred at their home and at the Mormon church property, where both Doe’s father and mother were active members.
According to the lawsuit, Doe attended Mormon Sunday School and other youth programs from 1987 to 1997. Her stepfather began using and manipulating church doctrines when Doe was about 5 years old. to groom the child, according to the lawsuit.
During his abuse, Doe disclosed the abuse to many members of the Mormon church, including a bishop. Instead of calling the police, the bishop gathered Doe, her mother, and her stepfather into a joint meeting, talking about repentance and instructing Doe to forgive her stepfather and forgive the bishop.
Doe later told another bishop about the abuse, but said she was silenced by the other bishop and other counselors, who told her she would go to jail and harm her family. if the crime is disclosed.
Doe said her mother knew her stepfather sexually abused and seduced her, but her mother did nothing to protect her daughter and continued to live in the same house with him.
In 1997, Doe was in high school in Lake Elsinore when she noticed her stepfather looking at her basketball teammates “inappropriately,” according to the lawsuit. Doe told his basketball coach about the sexual abuse and the coach reported it to the counselor. Doe’s stepfather was arrested the same day.
He pleaded guilty to all charges and was convicted of 55 counts, according to the lawsuit. The stepfather spent three years in prison, according to news reports. Her mother and members of the Mormon church were in the courtroom to support Doe’s stepfather. Her mother remained married to him for two years after his conviction.