A Howard County jury has awarded nearly $750,000 to a woman who was sexually assaulted and beaten by her ex-boyfriend at her Marriottsville home in August 2012.
The award announced last week for the woman, identified as “Jane Doe” in her lawsuit, includes $350,000 in noneconomic damages and $250,000 in punitive damages from Joseph Caudill, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence.
“I hope she is an example for other people not to put up with this behavior,” said Jane Santoni, a lawyer for the victim.
Steven D. Shemenski, Caudill’s lawyer, declined to comment on the civil case but said no decision has been made about an appeal. Shemenski, with the Law Offices of James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates LLC in Baltimore, also represented Caudill during his criminal trial.
The victim and Caudill dated for four years before the victim attempted to end the relationship because she was being physically abused, according the complaint, filed in January 2013. But Caudill would not accept the breakup and “made repeated efforts to get back together,” the lawsuit states.
Caudill entered the victim’s house Aug. 15, 2012, using a key she did not know he had, according to Santoni. He tied her up and raped her “while strangling her and afterward said that under the circumstances he would have to kill her and himself, because he would not go to prison,” the lawsuit states.
The victim managed to get free and attempted to run to a neighbor’s house to call for help. But Caudill caught her and dragged her back to the house “after viciously beating her and banging her head against a driveway,” the lawsuit states.
Caudill then tied up the victim and put her in his car to take her to his house to get a gun to kill her. The victim “begged the plaintiff not to make things worse,” and Caudill took her home and left three hours after first entering the house, the lawsuit states.
Caudill, a former Hampstead resident, was indicted in September 2012. A jury convicted Caudill of kidnapping and second-degree assault last May but deadlocked on a second-degree rape charge, according to Santoni, of Williams & Santoni LLP in Towson. Rather than facing a new trial on the rape count, Caudill entered an Alford plea in December, meaning he maintained his innocence but acknowledged prosecutors had a strong enough case to convict him. Caudill was sentenced last month, and has filed an appeal of his conviction, according to court records.
During the four-day civil trial before Howard County Circuit Judge William V. Tucker, the defense argued the incident was consensual, but Santoni played a 911 recording featuring the victim as well as a surveillance video of Caudill chasing the victim.
“The jury saw clearly what a violent act this was and the impact it had on her,” said Santoni, who tried the case along with Victoria L. Chihos.
The jury of four men and two women deliberated for three hours before reaching their verdict, which also includes damages for lost earnings and medical expenses.
Santoni said her client still has neck problems and gets migraines as a result of the attack. She is also dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Santoni.
“This is not something you just forget,” Santoni said. “But being able to tell her story and have it believed will go a long way to helping her, I think.”
Santoni said her client also wants to become “a voice for other victims” and make it easier for them to pursue civil suits against their attackers.
“I’m hoping it encourages other women to say, ‘You can’t do that. I have control,’” Santoni said.
DOE V. CAUDILL
Howard County Circuit Court
William V. Tucker
Plaintiff’s verdict for $749,250: $350,000 for noneconomic damages; $250,000 for punitive damages; $42,000 for past lost earnings; $42,000 for future medical expenses, $40,000 for future lost wages; $17,238 for past medical expenses; $7,212 for other, past economic damages; and $800 for property damage
Event: Aug. 15, 2012
Suit filed: Jan. 28, 2013
Verdict: May 23, 2014
Jane Santoni and Victoria L. Chihos of Williams & Santoni LLP in Towson
Steven D. Shemenski of the Law Offices of James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates
Assault, battery, trespass, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment