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Charla Aldous: Jury awards $32 million to woman who accused former Hebron football players of rape


A jury has awarded $32 million to a woman who said she was raped as a 14-year-old in 2012, finding two former high school athletes liable in the attack.

The verdict, in 462nd  Judicial District Court, was unanimous, according to a release issued by the victim's legal firm, Aldous/Walker of Dallas.

The sexual assault allegedly happened at a party at a student's home. The ninth-grader  reported that she had been drugged and then raped by two football players from Hebron High in Carrollton.

The two had sex with the girl simultaneously, jurors were told. The defendants said the sex was consensual, and one of them testified that he would act similarly were he to again encounter a girl as intoxicated as the victim, according to the release.

The victim, who has not been identified because  she was a minor at the time, was awarded $7 million in actual damages and $25 million in punitive damages.

"I cannot begin to tell you what this verdict means to my client," attorney Charla Aldous  said. "She is a brave young woman who stood for what was right against all odds. My hope is that she will be a voice for sexual-assault victims who are afraid to come forward and hold rapists responsible for their actions."

An attorney for the defense could not be reached.

One of the two defendants testified at trial that what happened between him and the victim was consensual and that his only regret was that he "lost his virginity in that way."

The second defendant, testifying by video deposition, asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

Neither has been arrested or charged with a crime in the case.

This was the second civil trial in relation to the attack. In 2014, the girl and her family sued Lewisville ISD in federal court over bullying and harassment she suffered  at school after the attack. The jury in that case, which took place in Sherman, declined to find the district liable.

The district then took the unusual step of asking that the victim pay nearly $27,000 in legal fees but was rebuked by a federal judge who denied the request.

"[She] is a sexual-assault survivor who still struggles with the psychological and emotional consequences of her assault," Judge Ron Clark wrote.

Lewisville ISD had delayed investigation of the victim's original allegations for several months and finally determined it had insufficient evidence to say whether she had been raped. 

But district officials testifying in the 2014 trial admitted they did not follow all of the rules under federal Title IX in their investigation.

The Dallas Morning News, Marc Ramirez, Breaking News Reporter:

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