Want to know what a victim of rape is worth? 1 billion.Record 12 person jury verdict. Juries are saying no to sexual assault and holding companies accountable! My client wants to be a spokesperson against rape. Will we recover all that? No but it’s what it stands for that matters pic.twitter.com/ib9wFWiFOR— L. Chris Stewart Esq (@chrisstewartesq) May 22, 2018
Jurors in Georgia just awarded rape victim with $1 billion in damages after she was raped by a security guard in 2012.
Hope Cheston was visiting a friend in apartment complex in Atlanta when an armed security guard, Brandon Lamar Zachary, raped her.
Cheston was 14 at the time.
Even though Zachary was sentenced to 20 years in prison, Cheston said the security company where Zachary worked at the time, never apologized to her.
She said she initially dealt with self doubt and regret.
“Every victim has that — ‘Well I should’ve did this, I should’ve did that, I shouldn’t have been here in the first place,’ ” Cheston said.
But jurors, in a life-altering move, ruled Cheston would get $1 billion in damages against the company that had hired Zachary at the time if the rape.
She said the money represented “her worth.”
“It was a shocking moment; it was a beautiful moment,” she said of hearing the jury’s decision. “It showed human kindness in its purest form.”
One of the jurors hugged her and said, “You’re worth something.”
Cheston had filed a case against Crime Prevention Agency, the security company, in addition to the apartment complex where she was raped and the property management company, citing she faced emotional distress and still suffers from pain and depression as a result of the rape.
Aside from the security company, the other two entities were dismissed from the lawsuit, which meant the entire sum was to be given to Cheston by Crime Prevention Agency.
Cheston’s attorney, Chris Stewart, said he did not expect the company was going to give her the amount ruled by the jury but he said what mattered more was what the money represented.
“What that number stands for is the most important thing,” he said. “We don’t care what we end up finally recovering from this company. We know they don’t have $1 billion. But it’s what 12 people in the state of Georgia said a victim of rape is worth that echoes louder.”
“We’ve already got our victory,” he said.
Stewart also said he had already told Cheston the case is not about the money.
“It’s what the jury writes down that’s going to fill the hole in her heart that that man tore out,” he said to Cheston.
Cheston said it took her a lot of time to restore self confidence after the horrific ordeal she had to face at just 14 years.
“My childhood was stolen,” she told reporters Wednesday, the day after the jury’s decision was read. “I had to basically build up my own self-esteem and remind myself who I am and just where I’m meant to go and remember my purpose on this Earth and not let this man feel like he took my purpose.”
She added it took a lot of courage for her to step forward and demand justice for herself.
“It did take a lot for me to say, ‘You know, this is beyond me. I need to finally nip this in the bud and finally get my justice.’ Because for the longest [time], I did not receive my justice,” she said.
Stewart said Cheston’s victory wasn’t hers alone; it was for all the brave sexual assault and rape victims that have found the courage to speak up for themselves. He said Cheston’s victory shows, “we will be heard and there are people out there that truly value us.”
Cheston echoed her attorney’s words.
“This $1 billion isn’t just my $1 billion,” she said. “This number on this sheet of paper — it’s my case, yes, but it’s all of our case.”
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Pixabay