CLEVELAND (WJW)– A victim of a serial pedophile was awarded a significant amount in damages by a jury, but now a judge slashed that sum because of a relatively unknown change to the Ohio Revised Code.
“It’s like an extra slap in the face,” Amanda Nolan said.
Amanda was only 11-years-old when Brook Park neighbor and family friend Roy Pompa sexually assaulted and abused her.
In 2007 Pompa, who was 51 at the time, was convicted of 93 counts of rape, kidnapping, gross sexual imposition and other child pornography charges involving eight little girls who were between the ages of 6 and 14.
“I do have memories of feeling his hand under my clothes as a child,” Nolan said. “And things that were quite horrifying.”
She testified at the criminal trial and later, with help from attorney John Fitch, sued Pompa for all of the pain and suffering he caused.
The once outgoing little girl began having night terrors and sunk into a deep depression that led to drug abuse in her teen years.
“At the lowest point of that, I tried to kill myself,” Nolan said. “I have panic attacks still to this day that have sent me to the hospital because I can’t calm down.”
Now 26 years old, healthy, clean for seven years and a married mother of two, Nolan and Fitch were thrilled when she won a jury settlement of $20 million.
Breaking down in tears Nolan said it wasn’t about the dollar amount, but the validation.
“Just to hear a room full of people say that we hear you, we know this is what you went through, and it was wrong and you’re entitled to this because of it,” she said.
But in late January 2020, a Cuyahoga County Common Please Court judge sided with the defendant’s attorneys and reduced the settlement from $20 million to $250,000.
According to the court documents, the judge cited Ohio R.C. 2315.18, which was passed as tort reform in 2005 and “establishes caps on non-economic damages” in civil lawsuits.
Legislators previously said the reform would reduce certain types of lawsuits, and therefor reduce court costs and cases that tie up the courts.
However, Fitch and others said they believe it’s actually re-victimizing victims and especially the victims of pedophiles.
“This is not a frivolous lawsuit, when a man rapes a child and the child tries to hold a man accountable. I don’t know anybody who would consider that a frivolous lawsuit,” Fitch said.
A similar previous case occurred and was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2013 in Simpkins v. Grace Brethren Church of Delaware, Ohio.
A female victim and her father sued the church and former church leaders alleging that a pastor had sexually assaulted the teenager. That jury award was reduced from $3.6 million to $500.000.
The cap may seem like a lot of money, but both Fitch and Nolan said it isn’t when you consider the costs associated with filing a case, from experts to investigators and fees.
She said she isn’t even upset about losing the money. She is more concerned about the impact it will have on other victims, and that it will prevent or deter them from seeking justice.
“It definitely shuts people out from the closure they need,” Nolan said.
While her attorney filed an appeal online in Cuyahoga County, which will be entered when the courts reopen Tuesday, Nolan is urging people to contact state lawmakers and demand they fix the law. She said you never know when it could impact someone you love.
The cap could potentially apply and limit damages to all victims, including those significantly harmed by a distracted or drunk driver
“It makes me very angry because I feel like a lot of people just don’t even know that it’s a problem much less that it needs to be fixed,” Nolan said. “And it’s just protecting pedophiles.”