Woman Who Was Raped at 14-Years-Old Awarded $1 Billion by Georgia Jury

For years, Hope Cheston thought her rape case had been “swept under the rug.”

In 2012, Cheston was sexually assaulted by an armed security guard at an apartment complex near Atlanta while she was visiting a friend, according to court records.

She was 14. The guard, Brandon Lamar Zachary, was 22.

He was convicted of rape and sentenced to 20 years in prison — but, Cheston said, the security company that hired him never contacted her or apologized for what happened.

And ever since the attack, she said, she has wrestled with doubt and regret.

“Every victim has that — ‘Well I should’ve did this, I should’ve did that, I shouldn’t have been here in the first place,’ ” Cheston said.

But in an extraordinary move, jurors in Clayton County, Ga., have awarded her a “life-changing” and “history-making” sum of money that, she said, represents what a victim’s pain is worth: $1 billion.

“It was a shocking moment; it was a beautiful moment,” she said of hearing the jury’s decision to award her $1 billion in damages in a lawsuit against the security company that hired her rapist. “It showed human kindness in its purest form.”

When it was all over on Tuesday, Cheston said, jurors hugged her and told her: “You’re worth something.”

The Washington Post generally does not name victims of sexual assault, but Cheston identified herself Wednesday at a news conference.

She had filed a suit against the security company, Crime Prevention Agency, as well as the apartment complex and a property management company. In her complaint, she said she had emotional distress, pain and suffering, and depression.

The apartment complex, HACC Pointe South, and the property management company, Hammond Residential Group, were dismissed from the lawsuit, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Lindsey Bever