At the age of 14, an Atlanta girl was helping her boyfriend set up a party at some picnic tables outside an apartment complex. In the process, she was approached and raped by an armed security guard, who told her boyfriend not to move. Six years later, a jury awarded her $1 billion in a lawsuit against the security company.
Hope Cheston, who is now 20 years old, sued the security company whose employee, Brandon Lamar Zachary, was accused of sexually assaulted her.
Zachary was convicted of rape and sentenced to 20 years in prison, reported the Associated Press.
Renatta Cheston-Thornton, Hope’s mother, filed a lawsuit in March 2015 on behalf of her daughter. On Tuesday, the jury ruled against Crime Prevention Agency, the security company that employed Zachary.
Zachary, who was 22 when he raped Hope, was not licensed to be an armed guard and should have never been hired.
Now, Cheston says her case can be an example to other victims.
“Sexual assault is sexual assault,” Cheston said at a news conference Wednesday. “It’s not right, and it needs to be punished.”
She also said she at times felt that her pain became less significant as time passed.
“For the longest (time), I thought it would be pushed under the rug and no longer mattered … but come to find out 12 strangers feel like what I went through and my story and how I feel six years later is worth a billion dollars,” Cheston added.
Once the State Court of Clayton County ruled in Cheston’s favor, her attorney called her personal victory a larger win for all women.
“This is a huge victory for women,” Cheston’s attorney, Chris Stewart, said at the news conference.
Stewart said Crime Prevention Agency Inc. has since changed its name to International Security Agency Inc., which he said has prompted a subsequent lawsuit.
“You can’t change names or try to hide from your responsibility,” Stewart said.