By Rita Henley Jensen
WEnews editor in chief
Monday, June 26, 2000
WEnews is a big fan of our jury system, nevertheless, sometimes we have to admit that some juries act out of the basest prejudice.
Case in point: In Dublin, N. H., a jury this month awarded a teen-ager $130 in damages for her pain and suffering after being raped by a fellow patient--a convicted sex offender housed on the same floor at a drug rehabilitation center.
The victim, 14 at the time of the rape, and her mother sued Beech Hill Hospital for $2 million claiming the hospital had been ineptly run and was aware that her assailant, Ernest E. Reels, was dangerous. The hospital's attorney made much of the fact that the victim had left her window open, even though she was asleep when Reels and an accomplice entered.
The jury decided that the hospital was liable, but only awarded the damages after directed to do so by the judge. They awarded her mother the cost of sending her daughter to the center, but the girl herself received $130, according to a report by in the Keene, N.H. Sentinel.
The victim's attorney plans to ask the judge to set aside the jury's award and increase the damages, but such judicial intervention is rare.