April 16, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Santa Monica Jury Awards Alleged Rape Victim $5.4 Million Verdict

VerdictA woman who claimed an employee of a West Hollywood nightclub raped her was awarded with a $5.4 million verdict Feb. 28 after a Santa Monica jury agreed with her case, it was reported.

Last week’s judgment was part of a civil trial at the Santa Monica courthouse, where the jury reportedly deliberated for 15 days before determining the monetary award.

The civil case followed a pair of criminal trials against the accused, Victor Cruz. The first criminal trial reportedly resulted in a hung jury, while Cruz was acquitted of rape charges in the retrial.

According to news reports, Cruz’s whereabouts has not been publicly known since the acquittal; he reportedly was not at the civil trial.

A 43-year-old news producer, the woman who was awarded the civil judgment claimed Cruz raped her in March 2009 when she was in a restroom at Here Lounge, according to reports.

Here Lounge is reportedly responsible for 40 percent of the $5.4 million award, or $2.16 million. Cruz is reportedly on the hook for the remaining 60 percent, or $3.24 million.

Representatives of the lounge were not available to comment.

Cruz was reportedly a bus boy at Here Lounge.

The Santa Monica jury did not believe the sex was consensual, news reports stated.

This being an accusation of sexual assault, the victim’s name is intentionally withheld.

Civil trials have a lower standard of proof – a preponderance of the evidence – than criminal matters, which require a jury to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, it is not uncommon for a defendant to be acquitted in a criminal proceeding but found guilty and held financially liable in a civil trial.

In 1995, for example, O.J. Simpson was famously found not guilty of murdering Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman but was found civilly liable to the victims’ families. The civil judgement was for more than $40 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Coincidentally, Simpson’s civil trial was also at the Santa Monica courthouse.

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