HOUSTON (CN) – A Harris County jury awarded $20 million to a woman who was raped in her apartment, which had not told residents about previous sexual assaults there.
The woman sued PCM Barker Cypress LLC dba The Promenade Cullen Park in June 2010. She said her attacker entered her second-floor apartment by jumping onto its balcony and forcing open the balcony door.
The masked man waited inside for the woman to return in February 2009, then attacked and raped her for “a period of almost eleven hours,” according to the complaint
The woman said in the complaint that Promenade Cullen Park knew a break-in had occurred less than two weeks before, in the apartment directly next to hers. (Graph “Defendant PCM knew the perpetrator threatened to and attempted to rape the resident. Moreover, defendant PCM knew exactly how the break-in was accomplished – by jumping onto the balcony from the stairs or landing and breaking through the balcony door,” the complaint states.
“Despite defendant PCM’s knowledge that an extreme risk of danger existed for its female residents, (especially those living in a second story unit with a balcony), it failed to warn them of the potential harm they faced.
“Instead, it created an even greater risk by deceiving the tenants and obfuscating the actual events that had occurred,” the complaint states. (Parentheses in original.)
One of the woman’s attorneys, Troy Chandler, with Williams Kherkher, told the Houston Chronicle: “The apartment complex issued a notice that an apartment had been broken into – the same warning that they would send out if a bicycle was stolen off a balcony or a TV was stolen out of an apartment. The notice failed to mention that a burglary occurred, that the assailant waited inside, that a tenant was attacked and that there had been an attempted rape.”
The woman, who lived alone, renewed her lease shortly after the earlier break-in, the Chronicle reported.
She sued PCM for negligence and deceptive trade practices.
The jury awarded $7 million for physical pain and mental anguish, $5 million for future mental anguish and $8 million for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act after a week-long trial.
The attacker, Daryl Anthony Martin, now 24, was arrested shortly after the incident. He pleaded guilty to sexual assault in 2010, and was sentenced to 20 years in state prison, the Chronicle reported.