COLUMBUS (WJW) – The Ohio Supreme Court will consider an important question on Wednesday: is the state’s limit on the compensation that victims of child sexual abuse can receive constitutional?
The legal battle of a courageous Northeast Ohio woman to hold her abuser accountable is the basis for the case.
The story began to unfold publicly in 2006, when a police investigation revealed that 50-year-old Roy Pompa was a serial predator who preyed on young girls, drugging and then raping them at his home in Brook Park.
Detectives said he videotaped some of the attacks on the girls, who ranged in age from 6 to 13. In May 2007, Pompa was convicted on 93 counts, which included rape, kidnapping and child pornography charges.
He was sentenced to life in prison.
Pompa’s crimes had a profound impact on the lives of his victims.
“At the lowest point of that, I tried to kill myself. I didn’t want to deal with it any more. It felt too overwhelming to be in these situations that I didn’t choose to be in and didn’t want to be a part of,” said Amanda Brandt Nolan.
Amanda was a friend of Pompa’s daughter and just 11 years old when Pompa began drugging and abusing her.
In 2017, Amanda Nolan filed a civil lawsuit against Pompa and a jury awarded her compensation that included $20 million in compensatory damages.
“Just to hear a room full of people say that ‘we hear you, we know that this is what you went through and it was wrong, it shouldn’t have happened and you’re entitled to this because of it,'” she said.
But as part of tort reform enacted in Ohio in 2005, the state had placed a limit on the amount of damages that victims can receive for non-monetary losses or injuries, and because some of the abuse that Amanda suffered happened after 2005, the trial court reduced the $20 million she was awarded to $250,000.
“It’s like an extra slap in the face, that even if you get to this point, it’s not going to matter,” she said.
Amanda’s civil attorney appealed the law that limits the compensation that child sexual abuse victims can receive, and on Wednesday the Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the cap is constitutional.
“It makes it very, very difficult to justify the expense of litigation and therefore has a chilling on the work that we do,” said civil attorney John Fitch.
He points out that Amanda may never recover any damages from Pompa and says her legal battle was never about money.
“For Amanda, this is more important than just her. She’s concerned about all these other victims, the potential future victims and the chilling effect this law will have upon them,” said Fitch.
According to Amanda, “right now, the way the law stands, I feel it’s just protecting pedophiles. Definitely it shuts people out from the closure they need.”
Meanwhile, groups representing the insurance industry and several business organizations have filed briefs with the Ohio Supreme Court, expressing their view that the limit on abuse victims’ compensation is constitutional.