LOS ANGELES – A man who pleaded no contest to molesting a neighbor girl in Lynwood and was sentenced to a year in jail, then allegedly harassed the child and her family when he was released, has been ordered by a jury to pay $28.5 million to the child and her parents.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for less than an hour Monday before finding in favor of the plaintiffs, identified only as James, Beth and Amy Roe, in their lawsuit filed in January 2020 against Luther Johns, who did not take part in the trial.
“Plaintiffs’ lives have been irreparably altered as a result of (Johns’) sexual abuse of Amy and ensuing behavior,” the Roe lawyers stated in their court papers.
The family members experience “rage, profound sadness and depression, fatigue, temper loss, mood swings, worthlessness, and insomnia” and feel “violated, angry and completely helpless,” the Roe attorneys state in their court papers.
Amy’s mental and physical health can never be fully regained, according to the Roe attorneys’ court papers, which further state that the girl — who was 6 years old when she was abused and is now 11 — was “robbed of a normal childhood.”
The $28.5 million total includes nearly $15.2 million for Amy Roe for her past and present pain and suffering as a victim of child abuse, which her lawyers say left her with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The remainder of the award is to compensate her parents for their emotional distress, which included seeing their daughter being abused, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ court papers.
Johns, then 72, molested Amy Roe by inappropriately touching and massaging her in January 2018 when he lived in the home next to that of her family, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys court papers.
“Amy’s parents … witnessed the abuse occurring in their backyard and immediately called the police,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers further stated.
After pleading no contest to child abuse charges, Johns was ordered by a judge to serve 365 days in county jail, register as a sex offender and obey the conditions of a stay-away order, the Roe family attorneys state.
Johns moved back into his home next door to the Roes’ residence after his release and despite being subject to a court order, he “began to engage in disturbing, taunting, and inappropriate behavior directed at plaintiffs, in flagrant violation of the restraining order,” the Roe lawyers stated in their court papers.
The conduct occurred from Johns’ own property as well as from on or near the Roe home, according to the Roe attorneys’ court papers.