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Jurors award woman $1.7M in MARTA rape (Atlanta)
The Atlanta Jouirnal Constitution ^ | 02/08/07 | BETH WARREN, PAUL DONSKY

Posted on 02/09/2007 8:50:17 PM PST by FreedomPoster

Jurors hit MARTA with a $1.7 million judgment Wednesday for a grandmother who was raped after being kidnapped from a parking garage at the MARTA Lindbergh station in Buckhead in June 2002.

The woman filed a civil suit against MARTA, contending that the transit agency had not properly secured its property.

But in an unusual court move, Fulton County Judge Craig Schwall on Tuesday blocked MARTA attorneys from mounting much of a defense. Jurors only had to settle on the amount the transit agency should pay.

Schwall said MARTA officials hadn't played fair with the woman's attorneys in the years leading up to the trial. He lashed out at the transit agency for not being able to produce documents to back up their claim that there were plenty of officers on duty the night the woman was abducted from the Buckhead parking deck.

"I will tell you it's a very brazen, intentional, deceitful act on the part of MARTA," Schwall said.

MARTA officials say they tossed out all police records from 2002, the year the woman was kidnapped, that would indicate how many officers were on duty the night of the crime and where they were posted.

They threw out the records because they moved their police precinct and didn't want to take old documents, MARTA attorney Tom Sampson said.

Sampson was disappointed with the jury's decision, he said, "but not surprised since we did not have an opportunity to present our case."

MARTA has a reserve fund to handle settlements and verdicts up to $5 million, officials said. The transit system's insurance covers anything larger.

MARTA board Chairman Ed Wall said the transit system was not treated fairly by the judge, and he hopes the transit system's attorneys appeal the case.

"He didn't even let us put on our case," Wall said. "It just doesn't seem fair at all. We had a vigorous defense. The only person to blame for that rape is the person who did it."

During a 2003 criminal trial, a Fulton jury convicted Bernard McCoy of rape and kidnapping. He is serving a sentence of life without parole plus 60 years.

Jury foreman Todd Kearney, 46, said the panel of six men and six women debated about six hours, with one juror suggesting an amount that would only cover the victim's medical expenses to others who tossed out a figure of $5 million.

And, at the heart of the case, the rape victim smiled as she left the courtroom, saying: "I'm happy, but this wasn't about the money. It was about security and their duty to the patrons."

The woman is not being named because she is a rape victim.

Outside the courtroom, some jurors lined up to hug the soft-spoken victim and shake hands with attorneys on both sides.

Some jurors lingered in the hallway to make personal pleas urging MARTA to improve its crime-reporting methods.

One juror, Anastasia Pass, 56, said: "There definitely needs to be changes at MARTA in terms of their internal reporting."

Another, Jason Williams, 37, who owns a dog grooming shop, shook hands outside the courtroom with a MARTA assistant police chief, saying: "I have to ask you to improve your internal reporting."

Assistant Chief Carol Johnson replied: "There's nothing wrong with it."

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; US: Georgia
KEYWORDS: bethwarren; govwatch; judiciary; lawsuit; pauldonsky
I found out today that a close friend was one of the jurors. There's a post at the AJC thread on this, that mirrors what I heard about this case:

"I had wished more details of the case where available in the article because what was not shared was the fact that when the buiding was erected it was in the plans for the facility to have cameras, call boxes, fencing around the ground floor, and mirrors to help with security. The chief of the police for Marta made the recommendation and studies had demonstrated that parking decks are the highest crime areas, hence those security precautions are recommended. Marta built the station and decided not to install these features for the protection of its passengers. Furthermore, if a passenger needed help on the fourth floor those pleas could not be heard. A police officer had been assigned for traffic direction but not allowed for deck patrols. Around the time of the incident there had been a number of reported crimes. It is even in Marta's mandates to have these security minimiums, but ignored its own internal policies."

This is pretty much what I was hearing from my friend, and that the complete cluelessness of MARTA was just breathtaking.

Also, it's worth noting that a firm I used to be with, designed the security for the Hewlitt Packard building at Ashford-Dunwoody and I-285, in the early 90s. The deck there had panic call boxes and cameras. For a public facility like MARTA to not have these basics, when built almost a decade later, just shows complete negligence on the part of MARTA. They deserved to get hit like this.

1 posted on 02/09/2007 8:50:18 PM PST by FreedomPoster
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To: FreedomPoster
Assistant Chief Carol Johnson replied: "There's nothing wrong with it."
2 posted on 02/09/2007 8:55:30 PM PST by stuck_in_new_orleans
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To: stuck_in_new_orleans

On that, go try and find information about MARTA crime. Apparently, the reporting is nonexistent. They don't even have a basic database of crime incidents.

FYI, I've been told that the MARTA police chief at the time, is now the Sandy Springs police chief, and that it was obvious in the trial, that much information was kept from him at the time, by his underlings.

I really can't wait to get together with my friend, and get a more full account.

3 posted on 02/09/2007 8:58:32 PM PST by FreedomPoster (Guns themselves are fairly robust; their chief enemies are rust and politicians) (NRA)
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To: FreedomPoster

Wow No kidding in a city like Atlanta there should be a panic box about every block downtown. You folks have a lot of rabid animal packs roaming for a kill.

4 posted on 02/09/2007 9:14:04 PM PST by hatfieldmccoy (Satan has a new name and it is Islam)
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To: FreedomPoster

Who committed the rape? It wasn't MARTA or the law-abiding taxpayers who will pay this judgment.

But I guess MARTA has deeper pockets than the scum that was responsible.

5 posted on 02/09/2007 11:22:36 PM PST by TheBattman (I've got TWO QUESTIONS for you....)
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To: FreedomPoster
"They deserved to get hit like this."

They is us.

6 posted on 02/12/2007 5:04:02 AM PST by avg_freeper (Gunga galunga. Gunga, gunga galunga)
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To: avg_freeper

True enough.

Maybe if it happens enough, we'll get mad enough that we won't let the current bunch of clueless management types, run the place.

7 posted on 02/12/2007 5:23:08 AM PST by FreedomPoster (Guns themselves are fairly robust; their chief enemies are rust and politicians) (NRA)
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