San Jose Mercury News
SoCal men get $12.5 million in shelter molest lawsuit
The Associated Press
POMONA, Calif.—A jury awarded nearly $12.6 million to three men who claimed they were molested decades ago while living in a Covina shelter for children, a lawyer said Wednesday.
A Superior Court jury ruled Tuesday that Masonic Homes of California was liable for the actions of a former houseparent and was negligent in its hiring and employee supervision.
"It tells me that juries who are presented with a simple and basic story of broken trust respond with reason and compassion," plaintiff's attorney David Bigelow said.
Calls to the Masonic home for comment were not immediately returned Wednesday.
The nonprofit homes organization, based in Union City, runs shelters for children from broken homes.
The men, now in their mid-40s, contended that they were molested by the houseparent over a period of years while living in the home in the 1970s. The suit contended they were as young as 12 when the molestation began.
Two of the men testified that they told the home's administrator about the molestation but nothing was done. The employee quit in 1979.
The men were among 14 people who have sued, claiming they were sexually abused while living in the San Gabriel Valley home east of Los Angeles.
In October, a jury in another lawsuit awarded $3.5 million to two women who claimed they were molested by employees after being placed in the shelter.
Trials are pending in other cases.